Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

If you are suffering from any type of pain due to nerve involvement like facial pain, neck pain, low back pain or joint pain, this cutting edge treatment can help you

What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

RADIOFREQUENCY ablation, also called rhizotomy or neurotomy is non surgical procedure, where in radiofrequency waves are delivered to the target specific nerves, with the goal to interrupt the communication of pain to the brain.

What are the Types of Radiofrequency Ablation?

There are 3 types of Radiofrequency ablation.

  • CONVENTIONAL RADIOFREQUENCY ABLATION: a specialized RF needle is used through which continuous high voltage radiofrequency current given to produce a small thermal lesion on the nerve making it unable to transmit the pain signals to the brain.
  • PULSED RADIOFREQUENCY ABLATION: here higher voltage is used in a short pulses with no current passed in between the pulse. This allows the energy to dissipate more easily & less heat will be generated. The nerve remains intact but selectively ablates the A – delta & C – fibers.
  • COOLED RADIOFREQUENCY ABLATION: here a multichannel electrode is heated but also cooled by a continuous flow of water. The water allows regulated flow of high voltage current preventing the needle tip from getting over -heated. This creates a larger & more complete lesion.

How is the Procedure Performed?

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure. An Intravenous line will be secured before the procedure to administer a sedative to relax you.

With continuous monitoring and under aseptic precautions, using fluoroscope or ultrasound machine, a special radiofrequency needle is placed along side of the targeted specific nerve. To confirm the proper position, a small amount of electric current is passed through the electrode placed in the needle to the targeted nerve. This will stimulate the nerves & muscles in the immediate area. At this, you may feel mild pain or a twitch, which will be discussed with you during the procedure. Once the position is confirmed, some more local anaesthetic in given & a heat lesion is created on the targetted nerve using the preferred method (conventional / pulsed /cooled ) radiofrequency ablation.

How Much Time Does the Procedure Take?

This procedure may take 1-2 hours depending on the location & the number of lesions to be produced.

How is the Recovery After The Procedure?

Immediately after the procedure, the patient will be monitored in the recovery room for 30minutes to 1 hour and then discharged.

After the procedure, you may have swelling, soreness or even bruising at the injection site for first few days.

What Are The Precautions to be Followed After The Procedure?

Advice to be followed for first few days after treatment are :

  • Not to drive/ do skilled work for next 24 hrs after the procedure.
  • Ice application for 15-20 minutes at a time for every 2- 4hours. Heat packs are usually not advised.
  • Avoid doing any strenuous activities for few days.

Who Are Eligible Candidates for This Treatment?

Candidates with the following chronic pains:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • SI joint dysfunction
  • Knee pain
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Cancer pain
  • Headaches
  • Facial pain

When Will I Feel Better?

After the treatment, you will have pain relief within 1- 2 weeks of treatment.

How Long Will The Pain Relief Last?

Duration of results varies from person to person. Although it doesn’t give permanent pain relief, but it gives pain relief for a longer duration.

What are the Advantages of This Treatment?

  • No surgery required
  • Long term pain relief
  • Quick recovery
  • Quick restoration of function
  • Quick return to work

What Are the Risks?

Radiofrequency ablation procedure is a relatively safe procedure with minimal risk of complications. The complications includes:

  • increase in the pain for temporary period of time
  • Localized numbness
  • Soreness in the muscle
  • Infection
  • Bruising at the injection site