Rhizotomy / Radiofrequency Ablation

Rhizotomy/radiofrequency ablation, commonly known as RFA, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to reduce sensation from a painful nerve by killing nerve fibers that send pain signals to the brain. RFA primarily targets facet joint pain, which can lead to pain in the neck and lower back.  

Step One

Before the procedure, patients will lie on the stomach or side. A sedative may be administered intravenously for relaxation. This procedure is minimally invasive and does not require anesthesia. 

Step Two

After the skin around the spine is numbed with an anesthetic, x-ray guidance is used to direct a radiofrequency needle to the targeted nerves. A small electrical current is transmitted through a probe in the needle, targeting the nerve. Most patients feel a mild, warm sensation during the procedure. Because the process can take up to two hours, additional local anesthetic may be required during the procedure. 

Step Three

Soreness is expected after the procedure, but complications are rare. Patients will not be able to drive or operate machinery for 24 hours after the procedure. Although results vary, most RFA treatments last from three to 12 months