Nerve fiber endings are embedded in soft tissue and in normal use are constantly being heated and cooled, stretched and squeezed. They are subject to trauma, inflammation, and infection, like other body tissues. When a nerve is damaged or injured, it dies. Within a short time new nerves are formed. This process is the basis for radiofrequency.
What is Radiofrequency?
After evaluating the results of diagnostic nerve blocks, such as Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks or Facet Joint Injections, where pain relief has been achieved (even if it is short term reduction/relief of the pain,) the patient may be considered a candidate for the nerve to be destroyed to provide long-term relief of pain.
Where is this Procedure Performed?
The patient will
require use of outpatient services: OR room, use of fluoroscopy
of x-ray), and the radiofrequency machine. Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O.
Hee (Dennis) S. Lee, M.D.
uses a needle
electrode that has a sharp point. The point permits the direct
penetration of the skin. The
procedure is done under fluoroscopy to
permit her to directly visualize the area's bones and
Describe the Procedure
When the appropriate site is located, a nerve simulator is turned on briefly. Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O. looks for movement in the area around the insertion site or for movement in an arm or leg (depending on the nerve to be lysed.) When this has been completed, Lynne Carr Columbus, D.O. heats up the needle electrode to lyse the nerve area. The destruction of the nerve interrupts the pathway of the pain impulses to the pain. After several months the nerve begins to regenerate itself, establishing a healthy, pain-free pathway.
At the end of the procedure, a simple self-adhering bandage is placed over the area of the needle electrode placement. The patient is transferred from the special x-ray procedure room. After the patient has met recovery standards, the patient is discharged home or to an in-patient hospital room.
Anticipated Reactions Following Procedure
Patients may be sore around the area of needle electrode insertions for several days. Moist heat, massage, and pain medications may be used to reduce this pain.
Most patients are sent to occupational or physical therapy for instruction in a Home Exercise Program. Patients are usually allowed to increase their activity level over several weeks following the procedure.
Patients return to the physician for routine follow-up visits to give progress reports on pain reduction and report their adherence to the Home Exercise Program as instructed.
Who Best Benefits from this Procedure?
Patient populations who may benefit
from radiofrequency ablation include: