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Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy

What is a Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Ablation?  

A cervical facet radiofrequency ablation (RFA), also known as a Radiofrequency Neurotomy, is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat chronic neck pain originating from the facet joints in the cervical spine. This procedure uses targeted heat from radiofrequency energy to interrupt the transmission of pain signals from the medial branch nerves that supply the facet joints. 

How is a Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Ablation Performed?  

To perform a cervical facet radiofrequency ablation: 

  1. 1. The patient lies comfortably on their stomach and may be given a mild sedative. 
  2. 2. The physician numbs the skin and tissue overlying the target facet joints with a local anesthetic. 
  3. 3. Using fluoroscopic (X-ray) guidance, the physician carefully inserts a hollow needle-like instrument, called a cannula, into the area near the medial branch nerves. 
  4. 4. An electrode is then passed through the cannula and positioned next to the target nerves. The physician tests the placement by briefly stimulating the nerves to ensure the correct location. 
  5. 5. Once properly positioned, the electrode is heated using radiofrequency energy, which ablates (destroys) the medial branch nerves and interrupts the transmission of pain signals. 
  6. 6. This process may be repeated to treat multiple levels of the cervical spine as needed. 

What Supplies and Medications are Used for a Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Ablation?  

The key components for this procedure include: 

  • – Local anesthetic (e.g. lidocaine) to numb the injection site 
  • – Radiofrequency generator and electrode to deliver the thermal ablation 
  • – Fluoroscopic imaging guidance to precisely target the medial branch nerves 

The physician will select the appropriate equipment and techniques based on the patient’s unique anatomy and treatment needs.

What to Expect After a Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Ablation?  

After the procedure, patients may experience some soreness or discomfort at the injection site, which can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. Most patients report a gradual decrease in their neck pain over the following weeks as the medial branch nerves regenerate. 

The full pain-relieving benefits of the procedure may take several weeks to become apparent. Some patients may require repeat procedures in the future if their pain returns. The physician will provide specific post-procedure instructions and schedule any necessary follow-up appointments. Patients should report any concerning symptoms, such as increased pain, numbness, or weakness to their healthcare provider.

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