What Is Medial Branch Block?
Medial Branch Block is a diagnostic procedure performed at Summit Healthcare to identify a painful facet joint.
Facet joints are the joints between the vertebrae in the spine. The Facet Joints allow the spine to flex, bend and twist.
Preparation For Medial Branch Block
In preparation for the procedure, the patient is positioned on his stomach. The physician injects a local anesthetic. This numbs the skin and tissue around the facet joint that is suspected of causing the patient’s pain.
Medial Branch Block Procedure
Once this tissue is numb, a needle will be injected into the skin. The needle is carefully guided down to the facet joint. The contrast solution will then be injected through this needle. We will confirm that the needle is positioned correctly, then attach a syringe containing a short term anesthetic medication. This anesthetic is injected around small nerves called the medial branch nerves. If the temporary injection relieves the patient’s pain, we can inject a more long-lasting anesthetic. If the temporary injection does not relieve the pain, we may test nearby facet joints to identify the correct one.
What Does The Contrast Dye Injection Do?
The contrast solution helps us see the area on a camera called a fluoroscope. The fluoroscope provides live x-ray images. The fluoroscope is used to confirm the location of the needle’s tip.
How Does The Anesthetic Injection Help Facet Joint Pain?
The medial branch nerves carry signals to and from the facet joints. The anesthetic will temporarily block sensation in these nerves. The short term anesthetic can help facet joint pain for 4 to 6 hours. Once the long term medication starts working, in about 2 to 7 days, the effects can last for days to a few months.
How Long Does The Medial Branch Block Procedure Take?
The procedure can take from 15 to 45 minutes depending on the number of painful facet joints.
Benefits Of Medial Branch Block
Medial branch block can it help relieve facet joint pain temporarily and it can be used to determine if the patient is a candidate for a solution. After 2 successful medial branch blocks are done patients can see if they are a candidate for radiofrequency ablation.