Radio Frequency Ablation

What is a facet Rhizotomy?

A facet Rhizotomy is the destruction of a facet nerve either in the lower lumbar region or the cervical region using radiofrequency waves (heat waves).

Why is a facet Rhizotomy performed?

A facet Rhizotomy is done if have pain due to disease in the facet joints of your spine and you have not had appropriate pain relief from your facet nerve blocks.

Is there any preparation for the procedure?

You are asked not to eat or drink anything two hours prior to your appointment. You may take your routine medicines (i.e., high blood pressure and diabetic medication). If you are on Coumadin (blood thinner) or Glucophage (a diabetic medication) you must notify the office so the timing of these medications can be explained.

What happens during the procedure?

You will be placed in the same position you were in for your facet nerve block. Your back or neck will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution and the area will be numbed. The doctor will use fluoroscopy (a special x-ray) to guide the placement of the needle probe to the area of the facet joint. Radiofrequency waves are transmitted to lesion the involved nerve.

How long does the procedure take?

About one hour, depending on the number of nerves to be done.

Complications for the procedure:

Bleeding problems and infection at the site.

Please call to cancel your appointment if you have the flu, a cold or other infection.

Special care afterward:

You will be taken back to your room after the procedure where a nurse will check your blood pressure and pulse. You will be asked to describe any change in your pain. It is normal to feel bruised or tender at the needle insertion site for a few days. The nurse will review the discharge instructions with you and you will be able to go home.

REMEMBER: You are NOT permitted to drive after your procedure. You absolutely must have someone to drive you home or the procedure will not be done.

Please call 706.922.7246 to cancel your appointment if you have a fever, the flu, a cold or other infection.