Radiofrequency Neurotomy of the Lumbar Facets

 

Overview
During this minimally-invasive procedure, the physician uses heat from radio waves to treat painful facet joints in your lower back. This procedure is also called radiofrequency rhizotomy. It can treat pain that doesn’t respond to medications or to physical therapy.

 

 



Preparation
In preparation for the procedure, you lie on your
stomach. You are given medicine to make you feel
relaxed. The skin and tissue of your back is
numbed.

Inserting the Cannula
The physician inserts a tube called a “cannula.” A
video x-ray device called a “fluoroscope” helps
guide the cannula to the medial branch nerves in
your spine. These tiny nerves carry pain signals
from your facet joints to your brain.

Treating the Nerves
The physician inserts an electrode through the
cannula. A weak electric jolt is used to test its
position. If the jolt recreates the pain but does not
cause any other muscular effects, it is positioned
correctly. Then the physician uses the electrode to
heat the nerve. This disrupts its ability to transmit
pain signals. Several nerves may be treated if
necessary.

End of Procedure
When the procedure is complete, the electrode and
cannula are removed. A small bandage is placed
on your skin. You will be monitored for a brief time
before you are allowed to go home. Your injection
site may feel sore after the procedure, and you may
still have back pain. If the correct nerves were
treated, you will gradually experience pain relief as
you heal. This may take several weeks. Your relief
may last for several months.