Genicular Nerve Ablation


Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is the leading cause of knee pain in adults. Knee OA results in the thinning of the covering cartilage and remodeling of the knee joint, which may cause pain with walking and weight bearing activities. If conservative care including physical therapy, medications and joint injections (steroid or viscosupplements) are not helpful, most common treatment has traditionally been surgical joint replacement.


Some patients try to avoid replacing the knee joint or have already had a surgical procedure but knee pain continues to persist. In both such cases, Genicular Radiofrequency Ablation (GRA) may be an option to treat knee pain.


Genicular Radiofrequency Ablation Indications:


  • Osteoarthritis (OA)

  • Chronic knee pain

  • Degenerative joint disease

  • Total knee replacement (before or after)

  • Partial knee replacement (before or after)

  • Patients unfit for knee replacement

  • Patients who want to avoid a knee replacement


GRA is an innovative option for treating knee pain without surgery. By selectively applying radiofrequency waves to the nerves surrounding the knee, one can effectively relieve pain in the knee .There is no steroid used in this procedure, In fact, no medication is injected into the knee joint at all. The entire procedure is performed outside the knee joint making it ideal for use before or even after knee surgery if necessary.

Risk Associated with procedure

It is important to know risk associated with any medical or surgical treatment. , There are few risks associated with Genicular Radiofrequency Ablation and they tend to be rare. The potential risks include, but are not limited to:

  • Immediate or delayed ALLERGIC reaction to anesthetics/contrast

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Complex regional pain syndrome

  • Temporary increase in pain

  • Transient facial flushing


Infection is a rare complication in patients receiving therapeutic injection performed under sterile conditions. It is more common in diabetic and immunocompromised patients. Bleeding complications are more common in patients with bleeding disorders, treated with anticoagulants/antiplatelet or taking over the counter medication like Motrin and Aspirin


Who Should Avoid Genicular Nerve Ablation?


GNA should not be performed in patients who:


  • These procedures should not be performed in patients with the following conditions:

  • Allergies to local anesthetics or steroids

  • Local or systemic bacterial infections

  • Pregnancy

  • Bleeding disorders

  • Tumors

  • Uncontrolled congestive heart failure or diabetes

  • When the risk of holding certain mediations (Aspirin, antiplatelet drugs/blood thinners) outweighs benefit of the procedure

  • Relative contraindication in patients with implanted pacemakers

Prepare for your Procedure:


Certain medications have to be held before elective spinal procedures. A list of such medications is included on the last few pages of this educational handout. It is required that you ask your Primary Care Provider and/or Cardiologist if it is safe to stop such medication before the procedure. Continue to take all other medications, especially your blood pressure and diabetes medications.


A sample of medications that have to be held includes:


  1. Aggrenox® (dipyridamole)

  2. Aspirin

  3. Coumadin® (warfarin)

  4. Effient® (prasugrel)

  5. Fragmin® (dalteparin)

  6. NSAIDS (see below)

  7. Herbal blood thinners

  8. Heparin

  9. Eliquis (apixaban)

  10. Lovenox® (enoxaparin)

  11. Plavix® (clopidogrel),

  12. Pradaxa® (dabigatran)

  13. Ticlid® (ticlopidine)


NSAIDS (such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Nabumetone, Diclofenac, Etodolac, Indomethacin, Ketorolac, Meloxicam, Piroxicam, Ketoprofen, Oxaprozin).


Please let us know if you have had a fever, antibiotic treatment, any illness or hospitalization within the last 4 weeks. You must be healthy and off all antibiotics on the day of the procedure.

Make sure you are not pregnant at the time of procedure. Perform a urine pregnancy test the night before your spinal injection and report the results to the nurse before the procedure. Exposure to X-ray (used during spinal procedure) is known to result in birth defects and possible miscarriage. If you are uncertain, cancel and reschedule your procedure until you can confirm that you are not pregnant.

Day of your Procedure:


  • Please take a shower, wash the skin with normal soap and DO NOT put skin lotions or medicated creams in the area of the injection. Wear dark, loose clothing and undergarments.

  • Arrive 30 minutes early and come with someone that can give you a ride home. The procedure should take less than 30 minutes and your total time from greeting to end should be less than 90 minutes. • Bring your latest MRI/CT imaging studies and written reports with you.

  • Have available an updated list of your medications and allergies. Please let the medical staff know if you are allergic to contrast, iodine or latex.

  • Do not eat or drink for 2 hours before your appointment. Diabetics may have a light meal (lower than your usual meal calorie and fat content).

  • After check-in, an identification wristband containing your name and allergies will be placed on your wrist. A nurse or medical assistant will review your current medications, allergies and ask screening questions. Afterward, a nurse will discuss final preparation before the procedure. If necessary an intravenous line will be inserted, particularly if this is your first spinal procedure.

  • In rare cases, oral sedation is needed to reduce anxiety associated with the procedure. This will slow down the entire process. Be sure to take the medication 1 HOUR BEFORE the procedure. It is required that someone be present to drive you to and from the procedure. Without a ride, procedure may be canceled.

During the Procedure


  • A gown will be provided for you to put on. You will be escorted to the procedure room by a nurse where a consent form will be reviewed/signed before the procedure. You will then be asked to lie on your stomach.

  • A blood pressure monitor and pulse oximeter will be placed on your arm/finger. The medical equipment makes loud noises (beeping, alarms) and you should not be concerned.

  • Intermittently, your doctor will talk to medical staff in the procedure room and instruct them to perform tasks. Your doctor will guide you through the procedure step by step.

  • After standard time out, your skin will be disinfected with a cool solution and a sterile sheet of paper or plastic will be placed onto your skin.

  • When your doctor is ready, the X-ray unit is placed over your spine to identify the target. • Skin will be marked and anesthetized (you will feel small pinch and burning sensation at each spot). It is normal to feel pressure or muscle spasms as the needle is advanced to the final target.

  • Once the needle is at radiographic target, a small amount of contrast is injected to confirm the final needle position.

  • The doctor will ask if you feel a tingling sensation or muscle spasms to ensure the electrode is properly placed. This step is followed by an anesthetic injection and 2-3 minutes per needle lesion time.

  • Once procedure is complete the needle is removed, skin is cleaned and Band-Aid is applied. You are then transferred back to the recovery area for observation.

After the Procedure


  • You will be observed for 15-45 minutes.

  • If you have an intravenous line, it will be removed.

  • A nurse will check your vitals, review the discharge instructions and answer any
    questions you may have.

  • You will be given a pain log and a copy of the discharge instructions, which contains
    emergency contact numbers. Please do not discard your discharge instructions.

  • A responsible adult must drive you home.

Discharge Instructions 


  • After the procedure, make a follow-up appointment to see your doctor (6 weeks after procedure). • After the procedure do not drive or operate machinery for at least 24 hours.

  • If sedated, do not make financial or important life decisions until the effect of such medication is cleared (24 hours).

  • Do not participate in strenuous activity on the day of procedure.

  • It is okay to shower after the procedure. No bathing/submerging under water for 48 hours.

  • You may remove the bandages 24 hours after the injection. Call if there is excessive redness or signs of infection like warmth, discharge or collection of puss at the site of injection.

  • You may resume your normal diet and medications.

  • Continue your blood thinners/anticoagulants/antiplatelet as instructed by your Primary Care Provider or Cardiologist. Your INR/PT/PTT may need to be checked 2-3 days after your procedure. Contact your Primary Care Provider and ask when you should have blood work.

  • Diabetics should monitor blood sugar levels 3 times a day for 3 days after the procedure.


Call your doctor if you develop these symptoms as you may be directed to the Emergency Room:

  • Shortness of breath or palpitations after procedure

  • Sudden weakness in the legs, face or arms following the procedure

  • Fever over 101°F within 5 days after procedure

  • Persistent redness, increased localized pain, or discharge from the site of injection

  • Possible allergic reaction within 5 days of the procedure

  • Intractable headache

  • Significant increased pain not responding to ice, NSAIDS or pain medications

  • Newly developed incontinence of urine or stool following procedure



Most insurance companies require prior authorization to cover this procedure (Medicare beneficiaries require no authorization). Your doctor will provide information to your insurance company for approval. It may take 3-15 business days before approval.


You will likely have a copayment and deductible for this type of treatment. You will also receive two medical bills related to these types of treatments (hospital bill and doctor bill). Please call your insurance company to understand your benefits.


The codes used for this procedure are: 64640 x 3 + 77002


Keywords: Genicular Nerve Ablation, Genicular Neurotomy

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