Medial Branch Block

This is a purely diagnostic test to identify which patients will receive benefits from a radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedure. An anesthetic is injected upon the medial branch supplying a targeted facet joint. Typically several levels of the spine are injected in one procedure, and then pain relief is assessed over the next day. We will evaluate your pain response to determine if you are a candidate for RFA.

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY EXAM?

  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • If you have diabetes, please eat one hour before your appointment.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY EXAM?

  • We will provide you with a comfortable clinic gown to change into.
  • Your technologist will explain the consent form, procedure details, and answer any questions before escorting you to our treatment suite where you will be greeted by the radiologist.
  • The radiologist will clean the skin and inject a local anesthetic, similar to the freezing you would get at the dentist.
  • Under X-ray guidance the radiologist will guide small needles adjacent to the medial branch nerves, and inject a small amount of anesthetic.
  • This is strictly a diagnostic test so there is no long-term therapeutic relief. It is used as a pre-curser to RFA.

POST-EXAM INSTRUCTIONS

  • You will be given a log sheet to record your pain regularly, for the eight hours following your injection, and another score 24 hours post injection. ONLY record pain scores for times provided on the sheet.
  • Please do not take any pain medication for 24 hours after your injection, unless it is necessary. Please record any medication taken and when.
  • We request you perform activities during this time to re-create your pain. This will determine whether the injection is beneficial and provide accurate pain scores. You will have a reference to help determine your pain score.
  • You may phone, fax, or email your results to the Image-Guided Pain Therapy Department (listed on the bottom of your log sheet).
  • After 24 hours you may resume taking your usual pain medications.

WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?

  • This is a two-part exam. Once we interpret your results from the first injection, you may be a candidate for the second part.
  • If you are considered an appropriate candidate after having both “test” injections, we will contact you to book your RFA procedure.
  • If, after the first injection, your results indicate you are not an appropriate candidate, we will contact you to cancel the second medial branch block injection, and inform your referring physician of the result with alternative injection options.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

This exam is covered under your Alberta Health Care Plan. It is not currently offered at our Saskatchewan clinic.

For Your Appointment

Please ensure that you bring your requisition with to your appointment.

Questions?

Duration

15-20 minutes