A radio-frequency neurotomy is a minimally-invasive injection procedure designed to create a heat lesion on certain nerves with the goal of interrupting the pain signals to the brain. This interruption is known as denervation and should eliminate the facet or sacroiliac joint pain.

What to expect

During your visit to our Vancouver practice, you will undergo a detailed assessment to provide Dr. Helper with the information necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.

For the duration of the radio-frequency neurotomy procedure you will be asked to lie prone on your stomach. The procedure is performed under a local anaesthesia, using fluoroscopic, also known as live x-ray, guidance.

Using live x-ray guidance, your surgeon will carefully place a radio-frequency needle at the base of the spinal bone along the course of the appropriate nerve. The needle is then heated to for 90 seconds the created the desired lesions. Each target area may be heated 2-4 times to achieve a full clinical effect.

The neurotomy procedure typically takes between 45 minutes and an hour and a half, depending on the extent of treatment necessary. The patient is then brought to the recovery area for a short period of observation, usually no longer than half an hour.

It is not uncommon to experience increased localized neck pain for up to 3 weeks from the time of the procedure. Rarely, the increased pain can extend for months.

After the Procedure

Following a radio-frequency neurotomy, a majority of patients experience complete or near complete pain relief which typically lasts for up to a year and a half. It is not uncommon to experience increased localized neck pain for a few weeks from the time of the procedure and it is rare for any pain to continue afterwards. Eventually the nerve will grow back and the procedure must be repeated.

Next Steps

If you are ready to discuss your pain management needs with Dr. Steven Helper, request a consultation today. During your consultation your patient care coordinator will discuss:

  • Your medical history
  • Diagnosis and Treatment options
  • Potential risks and complications

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