Different Types of RF Ablation Therapy for Chronic Pain

Source: WebMD

Radiofrequency ablation is a pain-relieving procedure characterized by sending radio waves through a particular kind of needle injected underneath the skin to destroy nearby nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. Here are the top five types of radiofrequency ablation:

1. Media Branch Neurotomy

The terms radiofrequency ablation and radiofrequency neurotomy can be used interchangeably to describe the same process. Media branch neurotomy is a form of RF ablation therapy affecting the nerves that carry pain from the facet joints, or spinal joints that are responsible for flexibility and bending. The medial branch nerves are in charge of controlling small muscles in the middle back, lower back and neck, where pain often resides. Performing RF ablation on these nerves has proven to be safe and should not create a loss of movement or sensation in affected areas.

2. Lateral Branch Neurotomy

Lateral branch neurotomy, or lateral branch ablation, occurs when RF currents are used to numb the nerves carrying pain from the sacroiliac joints, which are located in the pelvis next to the bottom of the spine. Lateral branch nerves do not control any movement or muscles in the arms or legs; therefore, numbness of these nerves will most likely not pose a threat to muscle movement or contractions.

3. Thermal or Conventional

Thermal or conventional RF ablation occurs when a RF current that is sent to the nerves causes energy to accumulate in nearby tissues. This energy is converted into a heat source and creates a lesion on the nerve, blocking it from sending pain signals.

4. Pulsed

Pulsed ablation is similar to thermal ablation; however, it uses a higher voltage, which allows the RF energy dissipates easier and generates less heat. During pulsed ablation, the nerve remains intact while shocks are sent to selective A-delta and C-fiber pain conductors.

5. Water-Cooled

Water-cooled, or cooled RF, includes actively cooling a continuous flow of water by using a multi-channel electrode that prevents the RF current through a method that reaches temperatures as high as thermal or conventional ablation. This process creates a more complete and larger lesion to avoid the nerve from sending out painful signals.

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