Radiofrequency Lesioning

Radiofrequency lesioning is a procedure to relieve pain. The procedure is often used for back, neck, or arm pain. Radiofrequency lesioning uses a specialized machine that creates radio waves to make heat. The heat damages the nerve that carries the pain signal. Pain relief usually lasts 6 months to 1 year.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Allergies to food or medicine.

  • Medicines taken, including vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or numbing medicines.

  • History of bleeding problems or blood clots.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.

  • Breathing problems and smoking history.

  • Any recent colds or infections.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

This procedure is generally safe. The risks and complications depend on what treatment site is used. General complications may include:

  • Pain or soreness at the injection site.

  • Infection at the injection site.

  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • Ask your caregiver about changing or stopping any medicines you are on before the procedure.

  • If you take blood thinners, ask if you should stop taking them before the procedure.

  • You may be asked to wash with an antibiotic soap before the procedure.

  • Do not eat or drink for 8 hours before your procedure or as told by your caregiver.

  • Ask your caregiver what time you need to arrive for your procedure.

  • This is an outpatient procedure. This means you will be able to go home the same day. Make plans for someone to drive you home.

PROCEDURE

  • You will be awake during the procedure. You need to be able to talk to the surgeon during the procedure. However, you might be given medicine to help you relax (sedative).

  • Medicine to numb the area (local anesthetic) will be injected.

  • With the help of a type of X-ray (fluoroscopy), a radio frequency needle will be inserted into the area to be treated. Then, a wire that carries the radio waves (electrode) will be put through the radio frequency needle. An electrical pulse will be sent through the electrode to verify the correct nerve.

  • You will feel a tingling sensation similar to hitting your "funny bone." You may also have muscle twitching. The tissue around the needle tip is then heated when electric current is passed using the radio frequency machine. This numbs the nerves.

  • A bandage (dressing) will be put on the area after the procedure is done.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You will stay in a recovery area until you are awake enough to eat and drink.

  • Once everything is back to normal, you will be able to go home.

  • You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home if you received a sedative or pain relieving medicine during the procedure.