The genicular nerve ablation is an outpatient procedure done to ensure long-lasting relief from pain in the knee. A radiofrequency instrument is utilized to shed heat on the genicular nerves and cause disruption to them. The genicular nerves are classified as sensory nerves and help in communicating pain signals emanating from the knee upwards to the brain. The goal of the procedure is to ensure disruption of this communication route, providing much-needed pain relief.
Prior to the commencement of this procedure, the patient is administered an IV and a mild form of sedation to help the patient relax. Antiseptic solution is then applied to the surface of the skin around the knee area to sterilize it and then a local anesthetic is applied for numbing.
With the assistance of a fluoroscope (presents images of what is transpiring inside the body, on a video screen), a needle is carefully inserted into the skin and guided down towards the nerve in question. Through the needle, an electrode is applied to the nerve, causing the nerve to heat up, a process known as ablation, which when applied is not painful. By heating up the nerve, the nerve loses its ability to communicate pain signals to the brain. This process is then carefully repeated on 2 more locations, ensuring all three of the genicular nerves have been treated.
Once the remainder of the genicular nerves have been treated, the needle is removed and bandages are applied to the site of the injection. Following the procedure, the patient is directed to an observation room, where they are monitored for a brief period of time, to ensure there are no side effects from the procedure. Once everything is okay, the patient is released on the same day. The patient may experience some numbness on the leg for a brief time as a result of the anesthetic being in effect. The patient can expect pain relief to begin immediately and this may last for a period of several months.