Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy

This min­i­mal­ly-inva­sive pro­ce­dure, also called radiofre­quen­cy (or RF) rhi­zo­to­my, reduces or elim­i­nates the pain of dam­aged facet joints by dis­rupt­ing the medi­al branch nerves that car­ry the pain sig­nals. This pro­ce­dure is per­formed with local anes­thet­ic. The neck and shoul­der are cleaned and ster­il­ized. Local anes­the­sia is admin­is­tered to numb the tis­sue at the injec­tion site down to the spinal col­umn. The physi­cian uses an x‑ray device called a flu­o­ro­scope to care­ful­ly guide a nee­dle-like tube called a can­nu­la to the irri­tat­ed medi­al branch nerves. A radiofre­quen­cy elec­trode is insert­ed through the can­nu­la. The physi­cian tests the elec­trode’s posi­tion by admin­is­ter­ing a weak elec­tric cur­rent. If the stim­u­la­tion recre­ates the pain with­out any oth­er mus­cu­lar effects, the elec­trode is posi­tioned cor­rect­ly. The physi­cian uses the elec­trode to heat and cau­ter­ize the nerve. This dis­rupts its abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate with the brain, block­ing the pain sig­nals. Mul­ti­ple nerves may require treat­ment. The elec­trode and can­nu­la are removed, and the injec­tion site is cov­ered with a small ban­dage. Although pain may increase for the first week after the pro­ce­dure, the patient usu­al­ly has full relief from pain with­in a month. Suc­cess­ful RF neu­ro­tomies can last longer than steroid block injections.

Click here to review a video illus­tra­tion of the Cer­vi­cal Facet Radiofre­quen­cy Neu­ro­to­my pro­ce­dure.
(Infor­ma­tion obtained from www​.viewmed​ica​.com 2012 Swarm Interactive).