Also referred to as radiofrequency rhizotomy, cervical facet radiofrequency neurotomy is a procedure used to reduce or eliminate pain in damaged facet joints of the cervical spine. Through the use of radiofrequency energy, pain signals from the damaged nerve are disrupted, preventing the cervical branch nerve from transmitting pain signals to the brain. Cervical facet radiofrequency neurotomy can be used to treat pain in the head, neck, arms, and shoulders. Patients experiencing pain associated with joint dysfunctions, such as cervical degenerative disc disease or cervical facet joint syndrome, may find relief from cervical facet radiofrequency neurotomy.
During the procedure, the patient is injected with a local anaesthetic at the site of the damaged facet joint. This numbs the area in order to provide the patient with a more comfortable procedural experience. Once numbed, the site is injected with a contrast dye, allowing the physician to guide a radiofrequency electrode into the spine. In addition to the dye injections, the physician will also place a cannula– a tube-like needle filled with dye– into each affected cervical branch nerve. This allows our physicians to test each nerve individually, pinpointing the exact source of pain. The electrode effectively cauterizes the nerve, preventing it from sending further signals to the brain.
Though some experience some discomfort for a few days after the procedure, patients can expect to return to normal activities about two days after the cervical facet radiofrequency neurotomy.