Pulsed Radiofrequency Neurotomy


What is Pulsed Radiofrequency Neurotomy?

  • Pulsed radiofrequency neurotomy is a modified version of traditional radiofrequency procedures.
  • Short bursts of electrical current are applied to the target / pain generating nerve via needle electrodes.
  • The nerve is stunned, not destroyed (unlike traditional radiofrequency neurotomy), which provides pain relief.
  • This procedure is always performed using X-ray control in the day surgery setting. 
  • For more information on radiofrequency neurotomy procedures, read our educational news article on Radiofrequency Neurotomy.


Prior to the Procedure

  • All blood thinning products (except aspirin) must be stopped prior to your procedure. You will be advised by letter when to stop taking these medications at the time that your admission date is arranged.
  • You are able to take your other regular medications with a sip of water on the morning of your procedure.
  • If you are an insulin dependent diabetic you will always be at the beginning of the list. Please bring your insulin with you and it will be given to you following your procedure.
  • Hamilton Day Surgery Centre staff will advise you of your fasting and admission times.
  • You must not have anything to eat, drink, smoke or chew prior to your procedure.
  • You will need to organise someone to drive you home after the procedure as you will not be able to drive for 24 hours after your procedure.


What Will Happen?

  1. You will be admitted to the day surgery by a nurse and you will be asked to change into a gown.
  2. The anaesthetist will speak with you and place a cannula (plastic needle) into a vein in your hand.
  3. In the procedure room, you will be assisted to position on the procedure table on your abdomen with a pillow under your hips and abdomen.
  4. The anaesthetist will give you some sedation into your vein.
  5. An X-ray machine will be used to determine where the doctor will place the needle for your procedure. 
    • The entire procedure will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
  6. Once correct placement has been achieved using X-ray guidance, nerve testing will take place.
    • You will be asked to let the staff know when you feel a tingling sensation (sensory stimulation).
    • It is very important that you let the staff know as soon as you feel this sensation. 
  7. On completion of sensory stimulation, pulsed radiofrequency will commence.
    • You may experience a faint sensation or some muscle contraction which is normal.
    • You should not experience any pain.
    • This radiofrequency will take around 2 minutes to complete. 
  8. After the procedure, you will be placed on a trolley and taken to recovery, where you will remain for approximately 1 hour.
  9. After having something to eat and drink, you will be discharged with a carer.


Post Procedure

  • Gentle activity and rest is recommended in the first 24 hours following the procedure. You may then return to normal activity.
  • You may be pain free immediately and remain free of pain.
  • You may possibly experience worse pain before any improvement and this can take up to 10 days.
  • A nurse from HPC will telephone you 24 to 48 hours following your procedure to discuss the outcome of your procedure and organize a follow-up appointment. 

If you require further explanation of the procedure, please contact Hunter Pain Clinic nursing staff on (02) 4985 1800.


* Image by PainDoctorUSA (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons