What is a hip radiofrequency procedure used for?
Many people with hip pain from osteoarthritis or even from hip fracture can find good pain relief with a hip radiofrequency procedure. This may help some patients avoid a total hip replacement with a metal implant which is a major operation and associated with risks of anaesthesia, blood loss, infection, nerve damage and post-operative pain. Hip replacements also have a 5- 15% chance of failure, and last about 10-15 years which means that if you are young, a hip replacement surgery may not be suitable for you. A hip radiofrequency procedure helps to circumvent some of these problems.
How does a hip radiofrequency procedure work?
A hip radiofrequency procedure works by placing thing specialised needles to target the pain fibres to the hip joint and destroying these nerves with radiofrequency technology while preserving the other important nerves. This is done under ultrasound or X-ray guidance by the pain specialist.
How is a hip radiofrequency procedure performed?
You will be given some sedation through an intravenous cannula. You will then lie on your back on a procedure table. After cleaning your hip area with an antiseptic solution, thin specialised needles are placed under ultrasound or fluoroscopic guidance. Testing is done to ensure that the correct nerves are targeted. An electric current is then passed through the needles to destroy the pain fibres. The whole procedure takes 30 min and you may be discharged home for a follow-up in 1-2 weeks or you may be admitted for a short course of physiotherapy.
What are the possible side effects?
This is a very safe procedure as it is minimally invasive. Rarely is there bleeding, nerve damage or infection. You may have some transient bruising or increase in pain.
How long will it last?
Everyone’s body is different and so the results will vary. We usually counsel that it will last 6 months to 2 years. Even if the pain returns it is usually not so severe. If there is good result the procedure can be subsequently repeated.