Rhizotomy is a procedure that utilizes radio waves (heat waves) transmitted through a needle to interrupt pain. These waves damage small nerve endings, stopping pain signals from traveling to the brain. Radiofrequency rhizotomy is a very effective treatment for pain. Many patients have received up to two years of relief from one radiofrequency procedure, however, pain can return when nerve endings heal. In this case, the procedure can be repeated as needed.
During the Procedure
Your physician will administer a local anesthetic where the pain is located. Then, the physician will administer a contrast dye, in order to guide the needle toward the nerve in question. Using fluoroscopy, the doctor will place the needle, and numb the nerve. Your physician will see that the needle is properly placed on the correct nerve on the fluoroscopy screen. The nerve is then exposed to an electrode, applying heat to the nerve for about one minute.
Who needs this procedure?
This procedure is only recommended to patients who have tried other, more traditional pain treatments, with no success.
After the Procedure
Physicians may wish to monitor their patient for 20-60 minutes before being discharged to go home. Patients are usually asked to rest on the day of the injection. The patient may resume normal activity the following day.