What is Radiofrequency Lesioning?
Radiofrequency lesioning is a procedure in which special needles are used to create lesions along selected nerves. The needles heat the nerve to 80°C (about the temperature of hot, not boiling, water). When this heat is applied to the nerve for about 2-3 minutes, the nerve stops carrying pain signals. The body tends to try to re-grow nerves that are blocked in this manner but that process can take up to a year or longer.
How is Radiofrequency Lesioning performed?
Needles are positioned using bony landmarks that indicate where the nerves usually are. Fluoroscopy (x-ray) is used to identify those bony landmarks. After needle placement, extremely low voltages are applied to the needle to test for proper placement. After confirmation of the needle tip position, a small amount of local anesthetic is injected. After the nerve is sufficiently numbed, higher radiofrequency voltages are applied and the nerve heats to the desired temperature.
Why is Radiofrequency Lesioning performed?
The Radiofrequency lesioning procedure disrupts nerve conduction and may, in turn, reduce pain and other related symptoms. Approximately 70-80% of patients will get a good block of the intended nerve. This should help relieve that part of the pain that the blocked nerve controls. Sometimes after a nerve is blocked, it becomes clear that there is pain from the other areas as well.
How long does the procedure take?
The injection takes just a few minutes and is done on an outpatient basis.