Rhizotomy Effects, Risks and Treatment

What is a Facet Rhizotomy?

The goal of a facet rhizotomy is to provide pain relief by destroying the nerves that carry pain signals to the brain. Generally, patients undergoing this procedure have had a series of successful diagnostic nerve blocks identifying the source of their pain. The rhizotomy is performed by using a radiofrequency probe, an ultra thin wire that is passed through a special needle. Using local anesthetic and x-ray guidance, the needles are placed into the space where the nerves are located. The probe provides heat to the location for ninety seconds, thereby destroying the nerves that are causing pain. The application of heat should not cause a burning sensation for the patient. In addition to mild sedation, the patient can also choose to receive IV pain medication, with the approval of their physician, in order to address any potential discomfort to the patient during this procedure. Unfortunately, the facet rhizotomy is not a permanent solution. The nerves will grow back over time and the procedure might need to be repeated in approximately six months to a year.