Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses an electrical current from radio waves to heat nerve tissue and reduce pain signals to an affected area. RFA is a common procedure used for chronic pain treatment. This safe outpatient procedure is usually completed in 15 to 20 minutes and is available to patients with the option of twilight sedation.

For the procedure, your Southwest Spine and Pain physician inserts an intravenous (IV) into a vein in the arm for the local anesthetic. The patient may choose to receive a mild sedative to reduce and discomfort during the RFA procedure. If you do receive a sedative, however, you must be required to have a ride home. If not, patients are usually permitted to drive themselves home following their treatment.

After the local anesthesia is given, your doctor will place a thin needle into the affected area. Using fluoroscopic guidance, the needle is guided to a target area. A microelectrode is injected and the stimulation process begins.

During the procedure, your doctor will ask you questions about your sensations to determine if the electrode is in the correct area. Once the placement is verified, the radiofrequency process begins and the electrode is heated, burning the surrounding tissue and nerves.

Radiofrequency ablation treatment has little side effects, usually from the anesthetic. Patients should apply ice and heat to the treated area to help relieve pain. For more information and to see if you qualify for RFA treatment, talk to your Southwest Spine and Pain physician today.