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Sympathetic Ganglion Ablations

A ganglion is a cluster of nerve cell bodies. Sympathetic ganglia deliver information to the body about stress and impending danger, and are responsible for the familiar fight-or-flight response. They contain approximately 20,000 to 30,000 nerve cell bodies and are located close to and on either side of the spinal cord in long chains. Sympathetic ganglia are the tissue from which neuroblastoma tumors arise.

Sympathetic ganglion ablations involve using radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RFTC) to heat up, block, and destroy the sympathetic nerves. RFTC is a relatively safe way of delivering a longer-term, prolonged pain relief.

What Happens during a Sympathetic Ganglion Ablation?

Sympathetic ganglion ablation is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. Sometimes intravenous (IV) sedation is used to help the patient relax. During the procedure, radiofrequency waves are transmitted through the tip of a specialized needle placed into the joint using X-ray guidance. The heat generated from the needle thickens the nerve and renders it unable to transmit pain impulses.