Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency Ablation Overview

The following material is given as general information only, and as such should not to be considered medical advice or consultation.

Radiofrequency (RF) rhizotomy or neurotomy is a therapeutic procedure designed to decrease and/or eliminate pain symptoms arising from degenerative facet joints within the spine. The procedure involves destroying the nerves that innervate the facet joints with highly localized heat generated with radiofrequency. By destroying these nerves, the communication link that signals pain from the spine to the brain can be broken.

Preliminary Testing - Before an RF rhizotomy exam can be scheduled, it is important for our radiologists to verify the areas where the pain originates. Exams required to determine these areas might include MRI of the spine, facet nerve injections with local anesthetic (numbing medication) and steroid (anti-inflammatory medication), and possibly discography.

Preparation and what patients should expect?

Patients who are scheduled for a procedure either at the office or surgery center are called by our nursing staff the day before the procedure. This gives the nurses the opportunity to make sure that the patients understand the pre-procedure instructions and to answer any questions that the patients may have. On the day of the procedure, patients meet with the nurse or medical assistant, Dr Godoy and the radiographer responsible for their care during and after their procedure. The physician reviews the procedure with the patient, obtains informed consent and answers any of the patients' remaining questions. Although the nature of our procedures makes it imperative for patients to be awake, patients are offered the option of having IV sedation during the procedure, as light sedation can make patients more comfortable and less anxious.

Our fluoroscopic procedures are performed in a special procedure room Patients are positioned on our procedure table with pillows, and care is taken to make them as comfortable as possible. The lights are dimmed and patients are supported by our staff with hand holding, if needed, and a lot of personal attention. The patient’s skin is numbed with a local anesthetic, and the Dr makes sure that the patient is comfortable . Once the site for the injection is located using fluoroscopy, a mixture of local anesthetic and steroid is injected around the nerves that are causing pain. The actual procedure time varies depending on the procedure, but most are completed in 20 minutes.

At the end of the procedure, patients are taken to their room in case the procedure is performed in the office or to the recovery area. For theses patient who had the procedure in the office, they may leave after they get dressed. For theses patient who had the procedure done in the surgery center, they are monitored for an additional 30 minutes. Here, patients are given something to drink and a snack. Patients generally experience pain relief immediately after their procedure. This initial pain relief is related to the local anesthetic or numbing medication used. The pain relief from this medication lasts for a few hours to a few days. Most patients experience a prolonged benefit, which occurs within 48 hours from the steroid medication.

You may need a driver for your appointment. Please call the office and ask if this is the case. Please notify a member of our staff if you are nursing or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

Possible side effects

  • Complications are rare, but you are encouraged to keep a record of any symptoms you experience following the procedure and report them to the radiologist at the time of the follow-up visit, usually 7 to 14 days after the procedure.
  • Physical therapy may be ordered at the time of the follow-up visit to maximize your overall recovery.

Contact Us

Danya Godoy, M.D.
Interventional Pain Management
Suncoast Medical Clinic
620 10th Street North
St Petersburg, FL 33705

727-824-8383 727-824-8388 About Dr Godoy