What To Expect After Going Through Radiofrequency Ablation

RFA: Understanding How It Works, Recovery & Side Effects

If you’re experiencing severe abdominal pain due to an enlarged spleen, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) can help. This non-surgical procedure uses radio waves to shrink your spleen, relieving your pain and improving the quality of your life.

Radiofrequency ablation, known as RFA, is a relatively non-invasive procedure. This process can have a notorious impact on the way you feel. Most patients who receive this treatment notice an immediate improvement in their symptoms. However, to receive the best results, the process must be done by a certified interventional pain medicine physician in Clute.

If you’re thinking about having RFA as a treatment option for your autoimmune disease, here’s what you can expect during and after the procedure.

Woman Having Abdominal Pain Due To An Enlarged Spleen In Texas

How Is The Process for Radiofrequency Ablation?

Mild sedation may not be necessary for an RFA. If the doctor uses sedation, you will probably be awake and conscious to an extent so that you can describe the feelings during the lesioning and stimulation of the nerve. 

Here’s the complete step-by-step for this process:

  • You lie on your stomach on a procedure table. You may need sedation through an intravenous line, so in that case, the doctor will let you know. 
  • Your skin will be well-cleaned before the process. This is necessary to avoid infections. 
  • The physician anesthetizes a small area of skin with medicine in the region of the RFA.
  • After that, the physician will use fluoroscopy to see the RFA needle and direct it toward the lateral or medial branch nerves. 

Lateral branch nerves direct pain signals from the sacroiliac joints, while medial branch nerves transmit pain from the facet joints. 

Once the needle tip is placed, the Clear Lake City interventional pain medicine physician will do the following:

  • They will insert an active electrode through the needle. This way, they will pass a small amount of electrical activity next to the target nerve and at a safe distance from other nerves in the area. This part of the process may recreate the painful symptoms for a few seconds.
  • Once the physician confirms the target nerve, they create a heat lesion with a preferred ablation method. In this case, the physician will surely use radiofrequency. 
  • The process may be necessary for other nerves.

The entire process lasts from 30 to 90 minutes. It may be minimally invasive, but it is still necessary to have someone drive you home after the process.

What Should I Expect During Recovery?

Once the process is ready, you will be shifted to a recovery room for at least 15 minutes or even an hour if you were sedated. Your vital signs will be continuously monitored during this time.

You may feel a superficial burning pain depending on the area the doctor treated. You may also feel a slight numbness over the same area (similar to a sunburn feeling). 

Remember you need someone to drive you home once you’re ready. The Dickinson interventional pain medicine physician will also give you some recommendations related to home recovery. 

One or two days after RFA, take warm showers and use ice packs to numb the pain and reduce swelling in the treated area. 

Are There Procedure-Related Side Effects or Risks?

Radiofrequency ablation is a non-surgical and minimally invasive process, so it is usually safe. Nonetheless, there is always a chance of developing side effects, including: 

  • Burning sensation over the treated area
  • Numbness or tingling sensation over the treated area.

These symptoms may last a few days or weeks, but you can manage them well by resting, using ice packs over the inflamed area, and by using oral medications.

The RFA procedure-related risks are rare, and these include:

  • Hyperesthesia
  • Skin infections over the treated area
  • Damage to surrounding blood vessels and nerves
  • Allergic reactions to the anesthetic used

As with any procedure, you may discuss and understand the potential risks and side effects with your doctor. 

Finding The Right Doctor In League City

One thing you cannot overlook when considering RFA is choosing the right doctor for the procedure. Only certified physicians can perform this process, so you must be careful when contacting a League City interventional pain medicine physician for this process.

If you have more questions about this procedure or want to know more about interventional pain medicine treatments, feel free to contact Evolution Pain and Spine, a top-rated interventional pain medicine center that serves patients throughout League City, and Lake Jackson, in Texas. Schedule an appointment with us by phone or email, we will be happy to serve you! 


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League City
3725 East League City Parkway, 240
League City, TX 77573

Phone: 281-916-1012
Fax: 281-916-1073
Sugar Land
17510 West Grand Parkway South, Suite 320
Sugar Land, TX 77479

Phone: 281-916-1012
Lake Jackson
201 Oak Drive South, Suite 104
Lake Jackson, TX 77566

Phone: 281-916-1012