Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a medical procedure also known as radiofrequency denervation (RFD), radiofrequency thermolysis and rhizolysis.
Nerves transmit pain and in certain medical conditions, the function of these nerves can be disrupted in order to alleviate or at least minimise pain. The procedure of RFA involves inserting a needle near the nerve that is proven or suspected to be the cause of the patient’s pain. A probe is inserted through the bore of the needle which is then heated, destroying the nerve.
RFA can be used to treat back pain that is due to facet joint arthritis, recalcitrant heel pain due to plantar fasciitis as well as conditions such as Morton’s neuromas that causes disabling forefoot pain.
The procedure typically takes about 30 minutes, is performed under local anaesthetic and may result in discomfort for approximately a week after.
Due to the use of radiofrequency energy, the procedure can only be performed in patients with pacemakers where the pacemaker is permitted to be switched off once approved by a cardiologist. If the pacemaker cannot be temporarily switched off, then RFA cannot be performed.
For more information read:
Melbourne Radiology Clinic - Patient Fact Sheet on Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)