Correlation Between Body Mass Index and Fluoroscopy Time in Lumbar Medial Branch Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation


  • Graham Edward Wagner University of Utah
  • Daniel M. Cushman
  • Masaru Teramoto
  • Aaron Conger
  • Taylor Burnham
  • Zachary McCormick


radiofrequency, ablation, facet, zygapophyseal, medial branch, body mass index, fluoroscopy, radiation


Objective: Assess the relationship between fluoroscopy time and body mass index during lumbar medial branch radiofrequency ablation. 

Methods: Consecutive lumbar medial branch radiofrequency ablation procedure data from an academic, outpatient pain/spine center was reviewed retrospectively. Fluoroscopy times per facet joint denervated were compared between patients with normal (18.5–24.9kg/m2), overweight (25.0–29.9kg/m2), and obese (≥30.0 kg/m2) body mass indices. Statistical significance was set at p ≤ 0.05. 

Results: Seventy-six consecutive patients were included for analysis. There was no correlation between fluoroscopy time and body mass index with respect to the number of joints denervated (p > 0.05). Age, sex, and the side of radiofrequency ablation were not associated with fluoroscopy time (p > 0.05). Fluoroscopy time was significantly longer when a trainee was present (p = 0.034) and when radiofrequency ablation was performed at a single level or unilaterally compared to bilaterally (p ≤ 0.001).

Conclusions: Fluoroscopy time per facet joint denervated does not increase in patients with higher body mass index during lumbar MBN RFA procedures. Age and gender were not correlated with fluoroscopy time. Trainee involvement increased fluoroscopy time, while the performance of bilateral and/or multilevel procedures decreased fluoroscopy time per facet joint denervated.