Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive treatment that uses heat generated by radio waves to destroy targeted tissues or nerves. The procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis and typically takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete.
Before the procedure, the patient is given local anesthesia to numb the area being treated. The doctor then inserts a thin, insulated needle into the affected area using imaging guidance, such as ultrasound or X-ray, to ensure precise placement of the needle. Once the needle is in the correct position, a small electrical current is passed through it to heat the surrounding tissue.
The heat destroys the targeted tissue or nerve, which can provide relief from pain or other symptoms. The destroyed tissue is eventually absorbed by the body, and the treated area is replaced with scar tissue.
After the procedure, the patient may experience some mild discomfort or soreness, which can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. The patient is typically able to return home the same day and can resume normal activities within a few days.
RFA is commonly used to treat chronic pain conditions, such as back and neck pain, arthritis, and nerve pain. The procedure is generally considered safe and effective, but like any medical procedure, it does carry some risks, including bleeding, infection, and nerve damage. Patients should discuss the risks and benefits of RFA with their doctor before undergoing the procedure.