Radiofrequency neurotomy is used for those patients who suffer from facet joint pain and have a positive response to medial branch blocks. Facet joints are the small joints at the back of the spine, they contribute to back pain in approximately 40 – 50% of patients, even higher in elderly patients.
This procedure involves the electrical burning of the nerve to the small joints to the back of my spine (facet joints) and is for spinal pain. The radiofrequency current is generated at the end of the radiofrequency needle. When placed close to a nerve the current changes the nerve. The nerves physiology is altered and it stops transmitting pain impulses.
On average most patients get three to nine months relief of pain with most patients getting on average six months of relief. Some patients however get minimal relief from the procedure.
This procedure is performed as a day patient. You will be prepared for theatre and placed in a theatre gown. Once you are on the operating table, the anaesthetist will place a cannulae in your arm and sedative drugs will be administered.
The procedure is performed under sterile conditions. Local anaesthetic is then injected into the projected needle path. Following this a radiofrequency needle is guided under x-ray control to the point where the nerve to the facet joint predictably runs. The nerve is then exposed to the radiofrequency current.