What is Radiofrequency Lesioning?
Radiofrequency Lesioning (RFL) is a procedure used to interrupt nerve conduction. This is a semi-permanent, outpatient procedure, that blocks specific nerves from sending pain signals to the brain.
Who would benefit from Radiofrequency Lesioning?
Radiofrequency Lesioning is beneficial for people who experience persistent back and neck pain. The pain most often radiates from joints along the spine, specifically that of the facet joint. This is a good option for those who have exhausted other pain treatment methods such as physical therapy or steroid injections.
Radiofrequency Lesioning Procedure Steps
- The patient will lie on their stomach during the procedure.
- The treatment site is cleaned, then injected with a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort.
- Patients can receive an IV for sedation purposes should they so chose, with sedation levels varying from slight drowsiness to fully sedated.
- A fluoroscopy (x-ray) device will be used by the physician to guide the radiofrequency needle to the correct nerves.
- Radiofrequency waves will then be delivered through the needle to the targeted nerve. These currents heat the nerve to about 175 degrees Fahrenheit. After 2 minutes, the nerve is “damaged”, thus preventing pain signals from traveling to the brain.
The patient will remain at the outpatient center immediately following the procedure for proper monitoring. A longer recover period will be required for those who underwent heavy sedation, however, the patient should be released within a couple of hours.
The procedure may result in pain or soreness at the injection site. It is best practice to only partake in light activities over the next day or two. The full benefits of Radiofrequency lesioning are expected to take affect in about one week.