Radiofrequency neurotomy is a procedure used to alleviate pain caused by arthritis, neuroma, degeneration, or following injury.
There are two types of radiofrequency treatment:
- Radiofrequency neurotomy which creates heat to the nerves of 90°C to break then down (radiofrequency denervation). This treatment can provide lasting relief from 6 months to 2 years.
- Pulsed radiofrequency (neuromodulation) which transfers heat to the nerves at a lower temperature of 40-45°C, and can provide long-lasting pain relief by disrupting the lining of nerves and inhibiting the pain signal.
Any fasting requirements will be explained at the time of booking.
Driving after the procedure is not recommended. You will need to have someone available to drive you home.
Please tell your doctor if you are on blood-thinning medication, have a current illness, or if you have any allergies.
Radiofrequency ablation is performed by a radiologist experienced in interventional procedures. A diathermy pad is placed on the leg (shaving may be required). After local anaesthesia an RFA needle advanced to the target nerve under imaging guidance (ultrasound or CT).
A thin probe is then passed through the needle, which is connected to a RF generator that results in heating of the probe tip. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes however you may be required to stay longer for observation.
The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes, however you may be required to stay longer for observation.
After the procedure, you may feel minor discomfort in the treated area. You will need to have someone to drive you home, and you should not drive for the rest of the day. The following day you may return to work and gradually increase your activities.
It may take a few weeks for pain relief to be achieved, and in some patients, a repeat procedure may be required. Recovery of the nerve fibres and return of pain may occur following many months or years. Once again, a repeat procedure in this instance may be required.
Risks / Side effects
Risks of interventional procedures are rare and include:
- Infection: usually minor. Less than 0.1% can require intravenous antibiotics or hospital admission.
- Bleeding: very rare. Individuals with bleeding disorders or those on blood-thinning medication are at increased risk.
- Damage to adjacent structures, including other nerves.
- Temporary numbness to skin.
- Pain: discomfort related to neurotomy can last up to ten days, but over-the-counter pain relief (such as Panadol) usually provides relief.
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