Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA)

October 26, 2016

A radio frequency ablation injection is a type of injection procedure in which a heat lesion is created on certain nerves with the goal of interrupting the pain signals to the brain. These procedures provide pain relief lasting at least 9 to 14 months and sometimes much longer. Before the procedure, the joints and branch nerves should have already been proven to be painful by a medial branch block or other diagnostic form of spinal injections, and have not responded to other treatment methods. As with many spinal injections, radio frequency ablation is best performed under fluoroscopy (live x-ray). A small amount of electrical current is passed through a needle to assure it is next to the target nerve. This should briefly recreate the usual facet joint or sacroiliac pain, and cause a muscle twitch in the neck or back. The nerves will then be numbed to minimize the facet or sacroiliac joint pain while the lesion is being created. The process is repeated for 1 to 5 additional nerves. The entire procedure often takes between 30 and 90 minutes.