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Radiofrequency Ablation

The Radiofrequency Facet Ablation (Rhizotomy) is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure.  Candidates for this procedure include patients who have received only temporary relief from intra-articular facet blocks or medial branch blocks. These patients must have reported greater than 50% pain relief for at least the duration of the injected numbing medication. In other words, the patient must have undergone a diagnostic/therapeutic injection with a positive response, before being considered a candidate for this procedure. This procedure can be performed in the Cervical, Thoracic, or Lumbar spine.

During this procedure the patient receives IV sedation, but will not be completely asleep. Once the area to be treated is properly cleaned and numbed, the procedure can begin. This procedure is performed under sterile conditions to decrease the possibility of infections. With the aid of fluoroscopy  (x-ray guidance), a radiofrequency needle and special electrode is placed either in the facet joint or in close proximity to the Medial Branch Nerve that carries pain impulses from that joint.  A small amount of radiofrequency current is sent to the affected area at each specified level to deaden the nerve.

Once treatment has concluded, the patient is observed afterwards, and discharged. The ultimate goal of the radiofrequency ablation is to destroy the nerves carrying pain sensations from the facet joint or joints. The pain is thus reduced, and the patient can decrease their medications and resume their normal activities.

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