Radiofrequency (RF) rhizotomy/neurotomy, is a therapeutic procedure designed to deaden the nerve to the painful arthritic joint. Relief of pain can last up to one year
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A RADIOFREQUENCY NEUROTOMY?
RF helps to decrease pain by interrupting the sensory nerve pathways using a machine called a radiofrequency generator. The radiofrequency neurolysis uses the instrument to generate a 500,000 hertz radio wave through a needle placed onto the nerve. This wave cause the nerve to have its electrical transmission interrupted which produces long term pain relief.
WHAT PATIENTS ARE CANDIDATES FOR A RN (RADIOFREQUENCY NEUROTOMY)?
Before you can be scheduled for an radiofrequency neurotomy procedure you generally must undergo a series of facet joint injections to verify the exact source of your symptoms.
If the patient responds to the facet joint injections with pain relief, they are considered good candidates for a radiofrequency neurotomy.
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
You will be given conscious sedation through an IV (intravenous needle) inserted in your arm/hand on your admission to the facility where the procedure will be performed. You will be escorted to the surgical suite with the nurse and asked to lay on your stomach for the procedure. The physician will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate (breathing) during the procedure. The physician will perform the RN (radiofrequency neurotomy) by placing the needle in your back along the location of your previously determined pain site. The RF needles will be placed through the insertion needles and the machine programmed for your treatment. The physician usually will inject a small amount of local anesthetic medication through the needles before removing them from your back to help minimize pain.
WILL THE PROCEDURE BE PAINFUL?
Typically the sedation provided minimizes pain. The physician will test the nerve during the procedure to ensure accurate placement of the needle. This stimulation of the nerve along with the radiofrequency neurotomy may be mildly uncomfortable.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THE RADIOFREQUENCY NEUROTOMY?
The most common side effect is local pain from the needles. An uncommon side effect is neuritis, a mild to moderate burning sensation in the leg, which usually lasts about 2-4 weeks. More serious but extremely rare risks are bleeding, infection, nerve injury, paralysis and weakness in the lower extremities.
The procedure is performed under sterile conditions and the use of x-ray to guide the needle placement.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR THE INJECTION TO WORK?
The beneficial effects are usually 2-4 weeks following the procedure.