Radiofrequency Rhizotomy (RF)
If you have had a positive response to a medial branch block or have had relief from prior facet injections, your provider may recommend a radiofrequency rhizotomy (RF). It is also know as a radiofrequency ablation, neurotomy or lesioning. It is a therapeutic procedure designed to provide long lasting relief of pain that is coming from the facet joints and is performed at an out-patient medical clinic. You may be offered a light sedative, or a local anesthetic (pain medication) my be injected at the treatment area for your comfort. For the procedure, the doctor places an insulated needle tip very close to the sensory nerve to the facet joint that is targeted for treatment and needle placement is confirmed by fluoroscopy (real time x-ray). Then the doctor allows a small amount of electrical current through the needle tip at two different frequencies. This heats up and destroys the targeted nerve. Though most patients feel relief in 1-5 days, it may take up to one month for maximum benefit. The treated nerve will eventually grow back healthy, thus allowing prolonged time of relief. The procedure can be repeated if necessary.