The procedure involves using a needle to carefully place a small electrode adjacent to the facet under x-ray guidance.
An electric current is then used to cauterize the sensory nerves that innervate the facet joint(s). If successful, the pain relief following an RF procedure can last considerably longer than relief following local anesthetic and steroid blocks. This process can be used on any area of the spine--cervical, thoracic, or lumbar.
Before patients can be scheduled for an RF rhizotomy procedure, they generally must undergo a series of facet injections and/or discography tests to verify the exact source of their symptoms. These tests may require several visits. If these tests have been performed elsewhere within 90 days of your exam, CDI's radiologist will need to review the results. Because of the potential irreversibility of the rhizotomy, it is important to verify the exact nerve or nerves from which the symptoms originate. For this reason, some of these pre-procedure exams may need to be repeated at CDI by the radiologist who will later perform the RF procedure.
Due to the trauma to the nerve, you may experience an increase in symptoms for 5-7 days after the procedure. Pain relief benefits from the rhizotomy should be apparent within 2-4 weeks.