Radiofrequency Procedure


What is it?

The goal of radiofrequency lesion generation is to provide pain relief by applying a controlled amount of energy to a specific nerve that has been determined to be the cause of your pain. It is a low risk method of treating mechanical pain syndromes caused by degeneration of spinal facets in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.

Before the Procedure:

Please do not eat or drink anything six hours before the procedure.

If you are on blood thinners please contact the office where your procedure is scheduled and notify them that you are taking anticoagulants. To have the injection you will need to check with your primary doctor for approval to be off your medication at least 3-7 days prior to the procedure. Patients on Coumadin require a protime/INR blood test the day before the procedure with an acceptable value of 1.5 or below. Bring these results with you to your appointment.

What to Expect:

An IV line will be started, usually in your hand. The procedure will be done using fluoroscopy (a visual X-ray process) to accurately place a radiofrequency needle at a specific location to relieve your pain. Both local anesthesia and a mild sedative may be used to reduce any discomfort during the procedure.

After proper placement has been established, the probe is connected to a source of generated low voltage. This controlled, low frequency flow heats the tissue causing selective denervation. By selectively treating the nerves that send pain messages, you should experience pain relief. You should alert your doctor if at any time during the procedure you experience any discomfort.

Make arrangements to have a responsible adult accompany you to your appointment, drive you home, and remain with you for 24 hours. This is for your safety and the safety of others.

After the Procedure:

You may experience some local discomfort at the needle placement site(s) following the procedure. The discomfort will subside over the next several days. Food and liquid consumption can usually be resumed soon after the procedure. The procedure can usually be done on an outpatient basis.

Since you have had IV sedation during the exam, you are not allowed to drive and will need to have a ride home from the surgery center. It is likely that you will experience some back or neck pain or numbness as a result of the procedure. This may take a few days to clear. You may experience pain or sunburn like feeling while healing. Please understand that it may take 6 – 8 weeks before you feel any relief from this procedure.

Radiofrequency may provide pain relief for a prolonged period of time. However, the human body may regenerate pain pathways over time. It is not unusual for the procedure to need to be repeated.

Radiofrequency treatment will not limit your day-to-day activities. You should be able to resume your normal activities, including work, as soon as you feel able. However, any pre-existing physical restrictions you had prior to the procedure may still remain.

Please call to make a follow-up appointment to see Dr. Lutz in six to eight weeks if you are still having pain.

Questions? If you have questions regarding the information you have read here, ask our staff for further information. Additional links are provided on the website for more detailed information.

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