Thoracic Facet Joint Rhizotomy / Radiofrequency Ablation
Generally speaking, if you have experienced pain relief from a nerve block injection, you may be a good candidate for radiofrequency ablation, also referred to as a rhizotomy. The term “ablate” means to burn the nerve which is causing you pain, eliminating the pain signals to the brain. Radiofrequency ablation uses an electric current to heat up a small section of the nerve that goes to the facet joint in order to stop the pain signal. This minimally invasive procedure can provide relief that will last for months for people with chronic pain due to arthritic joints.
How is radiofrequency ablation performed?
The doctor will numb your skin with an anesthetic. Then, guided by an x-ray, he will:
- Insert a thin needle into your neck and look at the placement under x-ray
- Next, a small electrode will be inserted through the needle to the target location.
- Before the burning is started, we use a process to test the needle placement to ensure that the correct nerve is being burned. A small electrical current is used to burn the nerve
Usually, the procedure takes 15-20 minutes and you can go home the same day.