What is a Rhizotomy?
A Rhizotomy (or radio frequency denervation) sends radio waves (heat) through a needle to stun small sensory nerve endings and red pain signals. The procedure is only recommended to those patients who have short term good response to specific interventions such as medial branch blocks or facet joint injections. Rhizotomy is considered to be most effective in carefully selected patients. Some patients report pain relief up to two years after the procedure. Since nerve endings have a tendency to grow back, the pain can return in the future. Fortunately, in this case the procedure can be repeated if necessary.
CT Guided Rhizotomy can be performed including the spine and knee (Geniculate Nerve Neurotomy).
Who will be performing the procedure?
Dr Sanjay Nadkarni, a highly trained interventional radiologist performs the procedure accompanied by a nurse or radiographer to ensure you are receiving the highest quality care.
Before the procedure
If you are a diabetic, be sure to discuss your eating and medication schedule with your doctor. You may need to stop taking certain medications several days before the procedure. Please remind the doctor of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you may be taking, including herbal and vitamin supplements. The Doctor will advise if and when you need to discontinue the medications. Please inform your Doctor if you develop a cold, fever, or flu symptoms before your scheduled appointment.
During the procedure
Rhizotomy treatments are performed using state-of-the-art CT technology. The area of skin on your neck or back will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution and the Doctor will inject local anaesthetic into the skin. After the numbing medicine takes effect and with the assistance of a planning CT scan, the radiologist will insert a special radio frequency needle. You will feel some dull pressure but no pain. After confirming that the needle tip position is correct from the CT scan, an electrode is passed through the inside of the needle. Using electrical stimulation, the doctor will verify the correct nerve. You will feel a tingling sensation similar to hitting your “funny bone”. You may also experience some muscle twitching. The tissues surrounding the needle tip are then heated when an electric current is passed using the radio frequency machine for 90 to 120 seconds. This will numb the nerves. After the procedure, we ask that you remain at the Clinic until the doctor feels you are ready to leave.
After the procedure, you may experience some muscle soreness for a few days. If so, you may want to apply ice or a cold compress to the affected area. Depending on how you feel, you may resume normal activities and return to work the following day. If the doctor prescribes physical therapy, it is very important that you continue with the physical therapy program.
Risks may include bruising and bleeding at the injection site, infection at the injection site, damage to nerves or blood vessels near the target nerve.
These risks may be less likely when the treatment is performed under CT guidance by our specialist interventional radiologist compared to other imaging techniques for performing a rhizotomy.
We are here to help
If you have any further questions regarding CT Guided Rhizotomy, please do not hesitate to contact our Claremont rooms on (08) 9284 2900.
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