Medial Branch Block
What Is a Medial Branch Block?
This diagnostic procedure is performed to determine if a specific facet joint is the source of a patient’s pain. During the procedure, an injection is administered to block the nerves serving the painful facet joints.
Patients lie on their stomach on a table equipped with a special x-ray (fluoroscopic) unit. A local anesthetic numbs the skin and all the tissue down to the medial branch.
Contrast Dye Injected
The physician slides a needle through the anesthetized track. A contrast solution is injected so the physician can use an x-ray (fluoroscope) to see the painful areas and to confirm the correct location of the needle tip.
Next, anesthetic medicine is injected around the nerves to block pain signals from reaching the brain.
End of Procedure
If there is no significant relief, another level may be treated to see if that is the source of pain. If the pain improves soon after the procedure, an injection providing more long-term relief may be performed at that level.