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RADIOFREQUENCY THERMACOAGULATION/RHIZOTOMY

Radiofrequency Thermacoagulation (RFTC)

Radiofrequency ablation, also called rhizotomy, is a nonsurgical, minimally invasive procedure that uses heat to reduce or stop the transmission of pain. Radiofrequency waves ablate, or “burn,” the nerve that is causing the pain, essentially eliminating the transmission of pain signals to the brain. The pain relief may last six months to a year or even longer. Sometimes, nerves do grow back. In such cases, the radiofrequency ablation may need to be repeated. After the procedure, it becomes easier to be more active. Radiofrequency ablation is a treatment option for patients who have experienced successful pain relief after a diagnostic nerve/pain receptor block injection.

Procedure

RFA may or may not be performed under mild sedation. If sedation is used, the patient is usually kept awake and conscious to an extent to be able to describe what they feel during the stimulation and lesioning of the nerve. First, you lie on your stomach on the procedure table and if sedation is used, an intravenous (IV) line is started so that sedation can be given. The skin is then cleansed and a physician numbs a small area of skin by injecting a numbing medicine (anesthetic) in the region of the RFA injection site. The physician uses x-ray guidance to direct the RFA needle toward the medial or lateral branch nerves. Once the needle tip is placed accurately, an active electrode is inserted through the needle and a small amount of electrical current is carefully passed next to the target nerve and a safe distance from other nerves. This current may briefly recreate the painful symptoms that the patient usually experiences. Finally, once the target nerve is confirmed, a heat lesion is created on the nerve using the preferred method (conventional, pulsed, or water-cooled radiofrequency) of ablation.

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