Genicular Radiofrequency Ablation
What is a genicular radiofrequency ablation?
Genicular radiofrequency ablation (genicular RFA) is a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat chronic knee pain. The procedure involves the use of electrodes to create heat lesions in target nerves, effectively interrupting the transmission of pain signals from the knee to the brain. The nerves will regenerate eventually, which may cause the pain to return, but this procedure generally provides pain relief for months to a year at a time.
Who is a good candidate for radiofrequency ablations?
Those who are suffering from chronic knee pain secondary to issues with arthritis, meniscal tears, and/or inflammation are candidates for genicular RFA. It is recommended that patients first attempt conservative treatments such as physical therapy or anti-inflammatory medications before they move on to interventional treatments such as genicular RFA.
How is the procedure done?
Prior to RFA, the physician must first perform a diagnostic procedure called a genicular nerve block in order to determine whether a patient’s knee pain is due to arthritis. These joints will be marked and visualized under fluoroscopic guidance prior to the procedure. After administering sedation and local anesthesia, the physician will then insert the electrodes near the target nerves and proceed to heat the nerves. RFA is a relatively quick procedure, and although response is variable, radiofrequency ablations are expected to reduce pain in the knee for at least six to twelve months after a complete treatment series.
What are the benefits and risks of this procedure?
The benefits of the procedure include:
- Minimally-invasive: Radiofrequency ablations are minimally invasive, meaning that there is minimal risk of complications.
- Pain-relief: RFAs can help you to get back on your feet and continue your normal activities.
- Quick: RFA is an outpatient procedure takes around 10-15 minutes on average.
Patients may notice some discomfort, local bruising or minor swelling after the procedure, but this should pass in a few days. Any numbness immediately after the procedure is due to the anesthesia and should pass within a few hours.