Different Types of RF Ablation Therapy for Chronic Pain


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. The terms radiofrequency ablation and radiofrequency neurotomy can be used interchangeably to describe the same process. Here are the top five types of radiofrequency ablation:

1. Medial Branch Neurotomy

Medial branch neurotomy is a form of RF ablation therapy affecting the nerves that carry pain from the facet joints and 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. Performing RF ablation on these nerves is generally 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, is when RF current is used to burn the nerves carrying pain from the sacroiliac joint. The sacroiliac joints connects the bottom of the spine to the pelvis on each side. Lateral branch nerves do not control any movement or muscles in the arms or legs; therefore, burning 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 radiofrequency current runs through an electrode, placed by a nerve, creating thermal energy. This heat creates a lesion, destroying the nerve, and 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. Pulsed ablation may be used without worry of producing a loss of movement or sensation.

5. Water-Cooled

Water-cooled or cooled RF, uses active cooling via a continuous flow of water, in a multi-channel electrode, to prevent temperature reaching as high as conventional ablation. This process creates a thorough and larger lesion, which prevents the nerve from sending out painful signals.

6. Cooled Radiofrequency Ablation

Is a process that offers long-term relief to patients. It works by sending radio frequency currents to affected nerves through a cooled electrode that is inserted in the skin through imagery guidance. The electrical currents interrupt the pain signals sent to the brain. It is especially effective at treating sacroiliac joint pain.

7. Transdiscal Biacuplasty

Uses radiofrequency waves to disrupt pain signals sent to the brain. It offers long-term pain relief for patients with chronic lower back pain and has proved to be safe and efficient for those who have responded well to nerve block treatments.