What Is Destruction Via Thermal Ablation?

Destruction via thermal ablation (DTA) — also called radiofrequency rhizotomy — is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat chronic pain in the back, neck and arthritic spinal joints. The technique uses heat to burn (ablate) painful nerves and prevent them from transmitting pain signals to the brain. It’s a safe and effective treatment option for patients suffering from facet joint syndrome. Facet joint syndrome is a degenerative joint condition that causes significant, long-term back and neck pain.

Before the procedure, you’ll be given a diagnostic facet injection to determine if you’re a candidate for DTA. An injection containing medications will be administered near a nerve just outside the facet joint. If the injection relieves your pain, then we’ll know the facet joint is the source of pain and that you’re a candidate for DTA.

What to Expect During the Procedure

At Integrity Spine and Orthopedics, we perform DTA as an outpatient procedure so that you can return home the same day. To begin, you’ll be asked to lie on your stomach and you’ll be administered local anesthesia to numb part of your neck or back. Your surgeon will make a small incision in the numbed area and insert a thin catheterized needle. Using an X-ray device called a fluoroscope, your surgeon will guide the needle to the painful nerves. Then, an electrode is inserted down the catheter tube and used to heat and deaden the pain-causing nerves. The process of destroying nerve fibers is known as “ablation.” Once all painful nerves have been treated, the needle is removed and a bandage is placed over your incision. The entire procedure only takes 20 minutes to an hour to complete.


DTA is a minimally invasive procedure, which means it has fewer risks than open surgery and requires less downtime and recovery time.You’ll be able to walk around and leave soon after your treatment and our staff will give you specific instructions to help aid your recovery. You may experience some soreness and discomfort at the injection site following the procedure.

You’ll begin to feel pain relief over the next several weeks following your treatment. Many patients experience pain relief for several months or longer. Unfortunately, DTA is not a permanent solution for many people. If the burned nerve regrows, another treatment session will be necessary. The DTA procedure can be repeated if your pain comes back.  

We encourage you to learn more about minimally invasive surgery and the benefits here:

5 Advantages of Minimally Invasive Procedures  

Contact Integrity Spine and Orthopedics to Find Relief From Back or Neck Pain

At Integrity Spine and Orthopedics, we specialize in identifying, diagnosing and treating a wide range of acute and chronic back, spine and joint conditions. If you’re experiencing back or joint pain, weakness, or a loss of mobility, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation with our team. We provide compassionate and comprehensive care to help you find relief from pain and get back to doing the activities you love. 

Call us at 904-456-0017 or contact us online to request an appointment.

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