Facet denervation

Term:

facet denervation, thermal ablation

When is this procedure indicated?
Arthritis and thickening of the small facet joints in the area of the lumbar spine with persistent back pain but no radiation to the legs (known as radicular symptoms).

How is the procedure carried out?
Ideally, the effectiveness of the principle should be tested first with injections. Under local anaesthetic and under X-ray guidance, a hollow needle is inserted into the small branch of nerves that supply the facet joints with pain fibres. This ramus dorsalis, as it is known, is then destroyed by heat using a special thermal probe integrated into the hollow needle.

Does the patient need to be admitted to hospital for the procedure?
In principle, the procedure can be carried out as an outpatient. Since the change in the law on 01.04.2013, we are however still only able to offer facet joint injections as an inpatient procedure to patients with statutory health insurance. A 2-day stay in hospital is generally required.