Transforaminal epidural steroid injection is one of the effective treatments in managing radicular pain. There have been some prospective studies on the depth to the epidural space with the transforaminal approach. However, there have been no studies about the depth in Asians, especially Koreans. This study was carried out in order to evaluate the depth to the epidural space and the oblique angle and factors that influence the depth to the epidural space during lumbar transforaminal epidural injection.
A total of 248 patients undergoing fluoroscopically guided transforaminal epidural steroid injections were evaluated. At the L3-4, L4-5, L5-S1, and S1 levels, we measured the oblique angle and depth to the epidural space.
Needle depth was positively associated with body mass index (correlation coefficient 0.52, P = 0.004). The median depths (in centimeters) to the epidural space were 6.13 cm, 6.42 cm, and 7.13 cm for 50-60 kg, 60-70 kg, and 70-80 kg groups, respectively, at L5-S1. Age and height were not significantly associated with the needle depth.
There is a positive association between the BMI (and weight) and transforaminal epidural depth but not with age, sex, and height.
BMI; correlation; depth; transforaminal epidural injection
This prospective-controlled observational study looked at well-matched patients with spinal pain and radicular symptoms, caused by lumbar intervertebral disc herniation to compare the short-term clinical outcome of transforaminal and interlaminar epidural steroid injection (ESI) in a resource challenged tertiary institution in Nigeria.
Materials and Methods:
49 patients with radicular symptoms who were matched for age, symptom duration, magnetic resonance imaging findings, and pre-injection revised Oswentry Disability Index (ODI) score and Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) were assigned into ESI technique. The ODI and VAS score were analyzed immediately after an injection and upon follow-up (average 178.5 days), also with the need for repeated injections and surgical interventions over a 1-year follow-up interval.
In the transforaminal group (25 patients), there was a statistically significant improvement in the ODI scores from before the injection (ODI mean 62.4) to immediately after the injection (ODI mean 24.4, P < 0.01), and upon follow-up (ODI mean 20.8, P < 0.01). 9 patients (18.4%) required 1 or 2 repeated injections, 3 (6.1%) patients underwent surgery and 2 (4%) patients lost to follow-up. In the interlaminar group (24 patients), there was a statistically significant improvement in the ODI scores from before the injection (ODI mean 60.7) to immediately after the injection (ODI mean 30.1, P < 0.01), but not upon follow-up (ODI mean 43.2, P = 0.09). 11 (22.4%) patients required 1 or 2 repeated injection, 4 (8%) patients underwent surgery and 3 (6.1%) patients were lost to follow-up. There is an average of 2 fold improvement of transforaminal ESI over interlaminar ESI in a 40 point scale of ODI score on follow-up, which was statistically significant (P < 0.01). The VAS showed similar pattern with the ODI scores in the study.
Transforaminal ESI to treat symptomatic lumbar disc herniation resulted in better short-term pain improvement and fewer long-term surgical interventions compared to interlaminar ESI.
Epidural injections; oswentry disability index; spinal pain
Transforaminal epidural injection of local anesthetics and corticosteroids is a common practice in patients with radicular pain. However, serious morbidity has also been reported, which can be attributed to an arterial or venous injection of the medication especially particulate glucocorticoid preparations. Using a blunt needle in contrast to sharp needle has been suggested to reduce this risk in a study on animals.
We present a 59-year-old female with L5 lumbar radicular symptoms and left L5-S1 foraminal narrowing who underwent transforaminal epidural injection with fluoroscopic guidance using a 22-gauge blunt curved needle (Epimed®, Johnstown, NY). Intravascular needle placement was detected during real-time contrast injection under live fluoroscopy after a negative aspiration and local anesthetic test dose. The needle was slightly withdrawn and correct distribution of the contrast was confirmed along the target nerve root and into the epidural space.
This case report discusses vascular penetration utilizing an Epimed® blunt needle to perform transforaminal injections in a clinical setting. This topic was previously discussed in earlier animal studies. We also reemphasize that neither negative aspiration or local anesthetic test doses are reliable techniques to ensure the safety of transforaminal epidural injections.
Blunt needle; fluoroscopy; intravascular penetration; radicular pain; transforaminal epidural injection
Study Design: Retrospective case-control study.
Objective: To compare the effectiveness between caudal and trans-foraminal epidural steroid injections for the treatment of primary lumbar radiculopathy.
Summary of Background Data: Spinal injections with steroids play an important role in non-operative care of lumbar radiculopathy. The trans-foraminal epidural steroid injection (TESI) theoretically has a higher success rate based on targeted delivery to the symptomatic nerve root. To our knowledge, these results have not been compared with other techniques of epidural steroid injection.
Methods: 93 patients diagnosed with primary lumbar radiculopathy of L4, L5, or SI were recruited for this study: 39 received caudal epidural steroid injections (ESI) and 54 received trans-foraminal epidural steroid injections (TESI). Outcomes scores included the SF-36, Oswestry disability index (ODI) and pain visual analogue scale (VAS), and were recorded at baseline, post-treatment (<6 months), long-term (>1 year). The average follow-up was 2 years, and 16 patients were lost to follow-up. The endpoint “surgical intervention” was a patient-driven decision, and considered failure of treatment. Intent-to-treat analysis, and comparisons included t-test, Chi-square, and Wilcoxon rank-sum test.
Results: Baseline demographics and outcomes scores were comparable for both treatment groups (ESI vs. TESI): (SF-36 PCS (32.3 ± 7.5 vs. 29.5 ± 8.9 respectively; p = 0.173), MCS (41.2 ± 12.7 vs. 41.1 ± 10.9, respectively; p = 0.971), and VAS (7.4 ±2.1 vs. 7.9 ± 1.2, respectively; p = 0.228)). Surgery was indicated for failure of treatment at a similar rate for both groups (41.0% vs. 44.4%, p=0.743). Symptom improvement was comparable between both treatment groups (ESI vs. TESI): SF-36 PCS improved to 42.0±11.8 and 37.7±12.3, respectively; p=0.49; ODI improved from 50.0±21.2 to 15.6±17.9and from 62.1±17.9 to 26.1±20.3, respectively (p=0.407).
Conclusions: The effectiveness of TESI is comparable to that of ESI (approximately 60%) for the treatment of primary lumbar radiculopathy. The increased complexity of TESI is not justified for primary cases, and may have a more specific role in recurrent disease or for diagnostic purposes.
We wanted to investigate the relationship between the magnetic resonance (MR) findings and the clinical outcome after treatment with non-surgical transforaminal epidural steroid injections (ESI) for lumbar herniated intervertebral disc (HIVD) patients.
Materials and Methods
Transforaminal ESI were performed in 91 patients (50 males and 41 females, age range: 13-78 yrs) because of lumbosacral HIVD from March 2001 to August 2002. Sixty eight patients whose MRIs and clinical follow-ups were available were included in this study. The medical charts were retrospectively reviewed and the patients were divided into two groups; the successful (responders, n = 41) and unsatisfactory (non-responders, n = 27) outcome groups. A successful outcome required a patient satisfaction score greater than two and a pain reduction score greater than 50%. The MR findings were retrospectively analyzed and compared between the two groups with regard to the type (protrusion, extrusion or sequestration), hydration (the T2 signal intensity), location (central, right/left central, subarticular, foraminal or extraforaminal), and size (volume) of the HIVD, the grade of nerve root compression (grade 1 abutment, 2 displacement and 3 entrapment), and an association with spinal stenosis.
There was no significant difference between the responders and non-responders in terms of the type, hydration and size of the HIVD, or an association with spinal stenosis (p> 0.05). However, the location of the HIVD and the grade of nerve root compression were different between the two groups (p< 0.05).
MRI could play an important role in predicting the clinical outcome of non-surgical transforaminal ESI treatment for patients with lumbar HIVD.
Spine, intervertebral disks; Spine, MR
OBJECTIVES—To investigate the accuracy of placement of epidural injections using the lumbar and caudal approaches. To identify which factors, if any, predicted successful placement.
METHODS—200 consecutive patients referred to a pain clinic for an epidural injection of steroid were randomly allocated to one of two groups. Group L had a lumbar approach to the epidural space and group C a caudal approach to the epidural space. Both groups then had epidurography performed using Omnipaque and an image intensifier to determine the position of the needle.
RESULTS—Body mass index (BMI), grade of operator, and route of injection were predictors of a successful placement. 93% of lumbar and 64% of caudal epidural injections were correctly placed (p< 0.001). 97% of lumbar and 85% of caudal epidural injections clinically thought to be correctly placed were confirmed radiographically. For epidural injections where the clinical impression was "maybe", 91% of lumbar injections, but only 45% of caudal injections were correctly placed. Obesity was associated with a reduced chance of successful placement (odds ratio (OR) 0.34 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.17 to 0.72) BMI >30 v BMI <30). A more senior grade of operator was associated with a reduced chance of successful placement (OR 0.16 (95% CI 0.03 to 0.89) consultant v other). However, small numbers may have accounted for the latter result.
CONCLUSIONS—The weight of the patient and intended approach need to be considered when deciding the method used to enter the epidural space. In the non-obese patient, lumbar epidural injections can be accurately placed without x ray screening, but caudal epidural injections, to be placed accurately, require x ray screening no matter what the weight of the patient.
Transforaminal epidural injection of steroids is used to treat lumbar radicular pain. However, there are only a few well-designed randomized, controlled studies on the effectiveness of steroid injection.
Hence, this study aims to assess the effectiveness of steroid injection to treat lumbar radicular pain using a meta-analysis of transforaminal epidural injection therapy for low back and lumbar radicular pain. The comparison was based on the mean difference in the Visual Analogue Score (VAS) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) from baseline to the specified followed up.
The available literature of lumbar transforaminal epidural injections in managing low back and radicular pain was reviewed. Data sources included relevant literature of the English language identified through searches of PubMed and EMBASE from 1966 to 2009, and manual searches of the bibliographies of known primary and review articles. Finally, the search included the Current Controlled Trials Register and the Cochrane Database of Controlled Trials.
The initial search identified 126 papers. After screening, five randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were studied for analysis and only three of these had followed-up patients systematically with pain and disability outcome scores to 3 months and of these, only one had follow up to 12 months. A total of 187 patients (‘treatment group’ receiving local anaesthetic/steroid injection) were compared with 181 patients (‘control’ group, receiving local anaesthetic only or saline injection). Improvement in pain (standardised mean difference in VAS 0.2 in favour of ‘treatment’; 95%CI: −0.41 to 0.00, p = 0.05, I squared 0%) but not disability (standardised mean difference in ODI 0; 95%CI: −0.21 to 0.20, p = 0.99, I squared 0%) was observed between ‘treatment’ and ‘control’ groups; these differences were not significant. Additionally, the one study following patients to 12 months did not find any significant difference in VAS and ODI between treatment and control groups.
The current meta-analysis shows that transforaminal epidural steroid injections, when appropriately performed, should result in an improvement in pain, but not disability. The three RCTs that followed patients to 3 months (and the single study to 12 months) have found no benefit by the addition of steroids. The limitations of this study include the paucity of the available literature.
Transforaminal epidural steroids; Radiculopathy; Sciatica; Steroids; Local anaesthetic
Prior to performing a cervical interlaminar epidural steroid injection (CIESI), knowledge of the depth from lamina to epidural space may assist in preventing cord injury.
This is a prospective analysis of data including gender, age, weight, height, previous surgery, neck circumference, distances from tip of chin to sternal notch, occiput to C7 vertebral prominence, and ear lobe to tip of shoulder, pain score, angle from C7 vertebral prominence to the back, depth at which the Tuohy needle contacted T1 vertebral lamina and depth at which the epidural space was entered was conducted with 92 subjects, average age (± SD) 41.3 ± 13.2 years underwent fluoroscopically-guided C7-T1 intralaminar epidural steroid injections.
Depth to lamina was the best individual predictor with an r-value of 0.86. Weight, neck circumference, and BMI correlated positively with depth to epidural space with r-values of 0.66, 0.62, and 0.61 respectively. A linear regression model of depth to lamina for predicting depth to epidural space was accurate to within ± 0.5 cm of the actual depth in 69% of subjects. However, when comparing predicted to actual depth to epidural space for individual subjects, the prediction was inaccurate by as much as 1.6 cm deep or 1.7 cm shallow.
While statistically significant correlations do exist between both quantitative external body characteristics and depth to cervical epidural space and T1vertebral lamina to depth of cervical epidural space for fluoroscopically guided interlaminar epidural steroid injections at C7-T1, even the most optimal regression models do not permit clinical confidence in predicted depth to epidural space.
To compare the treatment effects of epidural neuroplasty (NP) and transforaminal epidural steroid injection (TFESI) for the radiating pain caused by herniated lumbar disc.
Thirty-two patients diagnosed with herniated lumbar disc through magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography were included in this study. Fourteen patients received an epidural NP and eighteen patients had a TFESI. The visual analogue scale (VAS) and functional rating index (FRI) were measured before the treatment, and at 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 8 weeks after the treatment.
In the epidural NP group, the mean values of the VAS before the treatment, and at 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 8 weeks after the treatment were 7.00±1.52, 4.29±1.20, 2.64±0.93, 1.43±0.51 and those of FRI were 23.57±3.84, 16.50±3.48, 11.43±2.44, 7.00±2.15. In the TFESI group, the mean values of the VAS before the treatment, and at 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 8 weeks after the treatment were 7.22±2.05, 4.28±1.67, 2.56±1.04, 1.33±0.49 and those of FRI were 22.00±6.64, 16.22±5.07, 11.56±4.18, 8.06±1.89. During the follow-up period, the values of VAS and FRI within each group were significantly reduced (p<0.05) after the treatment. But there were no significant differences between the two groups statistically.
Epidural NP and TFESI are equally effective treatments for the reduction of radiating pain and for improvement of function in patients with a herniated lumbar disc. We recommend that TFESI should be primarily applied to patients who need interventional spine treatment, because it is easier and more cost-effective than epidural NP.
Epidural neuroplasty; Transforaminal epidural steroid injection; Radiating pain; Herniated lumbar disc
To determine the prevalence of anatomic impediments to interlaminar lumbar epidural steroid injection (LESI) in a community-based population.
Cross-sectional observational study.
Older adults (N=333) sampled irrespective of back pain status.
Main Outcome Measures
Computed tomography evaluation of 5 potential anatomic impediments to interlaminar LESI at the L2-S1 spinal levels, including (1) ligamentum flavum (LF) calcification, (2) interspinous ligament (ISL) calcification, (3) spinous process (SP) contact, (4) the absence of epidural fat in the posterior epidural space, and (5) the presence of fat density superficial to the LF in the midsagittal plane. Independent variables included age, sex, body mass index (BMI), and current smoking.
LF and ISL calcifications were prevalent in 3% to 7% and 2% to 3% of spinal levels, respectively, without significant differences by spinal level. SP contact was most common at the L4-5 level (22%). Absence of posterior epidural fat was very common at L5-S1 (65%), but infrequent at other levels. The presence of midline fat density superficial to LF was most common at L5-S1 (55%). The prevalence of LF calcification, ISL calcification, and SP contact increased with age, but the prevalence of absence of posterior epidural fat and the presence of a midline fat density superficial to LF did not. Sex and smoking status were not associated with the prevalence of anatomic impediments, but higher BMI was associated with a lower prevalence of absence of posterior epidural fat.
Anatomic impediments to interlaminar LESI were common in this community-based population, particularly at the L5-S1 spinal level. Because of the high overall prevalence of anatomic impediments, and differences in prevalence by spinal level, knowledge of the distribution and frequency of these impediments may aid in aspects of decision-making for the interventional spine physician.
Injections; epidural; Low back pain; Pathological conditions; anatomical; Rehabilitation; Spine
This case report describes the successful treatment of chronic headache from intracranial hypotension with bilateral transforaminal (TF) lumbar epidural blood patches (EBPs). The patient is a 65-year-old male with chronic postural headaches. He had not had a headache-free day in more than 13 years. Conservative treatment and several interlaminar epidural blood patches were previously unsuccessful. A transforaminal EBP was performed under fluoroscopic guidance. Resolution of the headache occurred within 5 minutes of the procedure. After three months without a headache the patient had a return of the postural headache. A second transforaminal EBP was performed again with almost immediate resolution. The patient remains headache-free almost six months from the time of first TF blood patch. This is the first published report of the use of transforaminal epidural blood patches for the successful treatment of a headache lasting longer than 3 months.
Lumbar interlaminar and transforaminal epidural injections are used in the treatment of lumbar radicular pain and other lumbar spinal pain syndromes. Complications from these procedures arise from needle placement and the administration of medication. Potential risks include infection, hematoma, intravascular injection of medication, direct nerve trauma, subdural injection of medication, air embolism, disc entry, urinary retention, radiation exposure, and hypersensitivity reactions. The objective of this article is to review the complications of lumbar interlaminar and transforaminal epidural injections and discuss the potential pitfalls related to these procedures. We performed a comprehensive literature review through a Medline search for relevant case reports, clinical trials, and review articles. Complications from lumbar epidural injections are extremely rare. Most if not all complications can be avoided by careful technique with accurate needle placement, sterile precautions, and a thorough understanding of the relevant anatomy and contrast patterns on fluoroscopic imaging.
Back pain; Spinal injection; Epidural steroid injection; Lumbar interlaminar epidural; Lumbar transforaminal epidural; Complications; Safety; Risk management
Open discectomy remains the standard method for treatment of lumbar disc herniation, but can traumatize spinal structure and leaves symptomatic epidural scarring in more than 10% of cases. The usual transforaminal approach may be associated with difficulty reaching the epidural space due to anatomical peculiarities at the L5–S1 level. The endoscopic interlaminar approach can provide a direct pathway for decompression of disc herniation at the L5–S1 level. This study aimed to evaluate the clinical results of endoscopic interlaminar lumbar discectomy at the L5–S1 level and compare the technique feasibility, safety, and efficacy under local and general anesthesia (LA and GA, respectively).
One hundred twenty-three patients with L5–S1 disc herniation underwent endoscopic interlaminar lumbar discectomy from October 2006 to June 2009 by two spine surgeons using different anesthesia preferences in two medical centers. Visual analog scale (VAS) scores for back pain and leg pain and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) sores were recorded preoperatively, and at 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively. Results were compared to evaluate the technique feasibility, safety, and efficacy under LA and GA.
VAS scores for back pain and leg pain and ODI revealed statistically significant improvement when they were compared with preoperative values. Mean hospital stay was statistically shorter in the LA group. Complications included one case of dural tear with rootlet injury and three cases of recurrence within 1 month who subsequently required open surgery or endoscopic interlaminar lumbar discectomy. There were no medical or infectious complications in either group.
Disc herniation at the L5–S1 level can be adequately treated endoscopically with an interlaminar approach. GA and LA are both effective for this procedure. However, LA is better than GA in our opinion.
General anesthesia; interlaminar approach; local anesthesia; lumbar disc herniation; percutaneous endoscopic discectomy
Discal cyst is an intraspinal cyst with a distinct communication with the corresponding intervertebral disc. It is a rare condition and could present with radiculopathy similar to that caused by lumbar disc herniation. We present a patient with a large discal cyst in the ventrolateral epidural space of the 5th lumbar vertebral (L5) level that communicated with the adjacent 4th lumbar and 5th lumbar intervertebral disc, causing L5 radiculopathy. We alleviated the radiating pain with selective transforaminal epidural blocks.
epidural; injections; intervertebral disc displacement; radiculopathy; spine
Satisfactory results have been seen with epidural steroid injections (ESI) in patients with herniated disks (HD), but the role in lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) has been less investigated. We compared long-term effects of ESI in HD and LSS patients.
In a prospective, single-blind uncontrolled study, 60 patients with radicular pain due to HD (n = 32) or LSS (n = 28) were enrolled over a 9-month period. Methylprednisolone acetate 80 mg plus 0.5% bupivacaine 10 mg were diluted in normal saline up to a total volume of 10 mL, and injected into the epidural space. The amount of pain based on numeric pain score, level of activity, and subjective improvement were reported by patients after 2 and 6 months by telephone. Demographic data were analyzed with the chi-square test. The differences in numeric pain scale scores between the two groups at different times were analyzed with the t-test.
There were no differences between HD and LSS patients regarding age, sex, and average duration of pain prior to ESI. The degree of pain was significantly higher in LSS patients in comparison with HD patients in the pre-injection period. The amount of pain was significantly reduced in both groups 2 months after injection. This pain reduction period lasted for 6 months in the HD group, but to a lesser extent in LSS patients (P < 0.05).
Epidural methylprednisolone injection has less analgesic effect in LSS, with less permanent effect in comparison with HD.
methylprednisolone acetate; lumbar spinal stenosis; herniated disk
Transforaminal epidural steroid injections are known to reduce inflammation by inhibiting synthesis of various proinflammatory mediators and have been used increasingly. The anti-inflammatory properties of opioids are not as fully understood but apparently involve antagonism sensory neuron excitability and pro-inflammatory neuropeptide release. To date, no studies have addressed the efficacy of transforaminal epidural morphine in patients with radicular pain, and none have directly compared morphine with a tramadol for this indication. The aim of this study was to compare morphine and tramadol analgesia when administered via epidural injection to patients with lumbar radicular pain.
A total of 59 patients were randomly allocated to 1 of 2 treatment groups and followed for 3 months after procedure. Each patient was subjected to C-arm guided transforaminal epidural injection (TFEI) of an affected nerve root. As assigned, patients received either morphine sulfate (2.5 mg/2.5 ml) or tramadol (25 mg/0.5 ml) in combination with 0.2% ropivacaine (1 ml). Using numeric rating scale was subsequently rates at 2 weeks and 3 months following injection for comparison with baseline.
Both groups had significantly lower mean pain scores at 2 weeks and at 3 months after treatment, but outcomes did not differ significantly between groups.
TFEI of an opioid plus local anesthetic proved effective in treating radicular pain. Although morphine surpassed tramadol in pain relief scores, the difference was not statistically significant.
chronic pain; epidural analgesia; injection; morphine; radicular pain; spinal
Serious complications following cervical epidural steroid injection are rare. Subdural injection of local anesthetic and steroid represents a rare but potentially life threatening complication. A patient presented with left sided cervical pain radiating into the left upper extremity with motor deficit. MRI showed absent lordosis with a broad left paramedian disc-osteophyte complex impinging the spinal cord at C5-6. During C5-6 transforaminal epidural steroid injection contrast in AP fluoroscopic view demonstrated a subdural contrast pattern. The needle was withdrawn slightly and repositioned. Normal lateral epidural and nerve root contrast pattern was subsequently obtained and injection followed with immediate improvement in radicular symptoms. There were no postoperative complications on subsequent clinic follow-up. The subdural space is a potential space between the arachnoid and dura mater. As the subdural space is larger in the cervical region, there may be an elevated potential for inadvertent subdural injection. Needle placement in the cervical subdural space during transforaminal injection is uncommon. Failure to identify aberrant needle entry within the cervical subdural space may result in life threatening complications. We recommend initial injection of a limited volume of contrast agent to detect inadvertent subdural space placement.
Complications following lumbar transforaminal epidural injection are frequently related to inadvertent vascular injection of corticosteroids. Several methods have been proposed to reduce the risk of vascular injection. The generally accepted technique during epidural steroid injection is intermittent fluoroscopy. In fact, this technique may miss vascular uptake due to rapid washout. Because of the fleeting appearance of vascular contrast patterns, live fluoroscopy is recommended during contrast injection. However, when vascular contrast patterns are overlapped by expected epidural patterns, it is hard to distinguish them even on live fluoroscopy.
During 87 lumbar transforaminal epidural injections, dynamic contrast flows were observed under live fluoroscopy with using digital subtraction enhancement. Two dynamic fluoroscopy fluoroscopic images were saved from each injection. These injections were performed by five physicians with experience independently. Accuracy of live fluoroscopy was determined by comparing the interpretation of the digital subtraction fluoroscopic images.
Using digital subtraction guidance with contrast confirmation, the twenty cases of intravascular injection were found (the rate of incidence was 23%). There was no significant difference in incidence of intravascular injections based either on gender or diagnosis. Only five cases of intravascular injections were predicted with either flash or aspiration of blood (sensitivity = 25%). Under live fluoroscopic guidance with contrast confirmation to predict intravascular injection, twelve cases were predicted (sensitivity = 60%).
This finding demonstrate that digital subtraction fluoroscopic imaging is superior to blood aspiration or live fluoroscopy in detecting intravascular injections with lumbar transforaminal epidural injection.
digital subtraction image; epidural injection; fluoroscopy; intravascular injection
Spinal injection procedures can be performed blindly or, more accurately, with fluoroscopic or computed
tomography (CT) guidance. Radiographic guidance for selective nerve root blocks and epidural injections allows an
accurate needle placement, reduces the procedure time and is more secure for the patient, especially in patients with
marked degenerative changes and scoliosis, resulting in a narrowing of the interlaminar space. Limiting factors remain the
availability of scanners and the radiation dose. Interventional CT scan protocols in axial CT-acquisition mode for epidural
and periradicular injections help to limit the radiation dose without a significant decrease of image quality. The purpose of
this retrospective study was to analyze the effective radiation dosage patients are exposed during CT-guided epidural
lumbar and periradicular injections. A total amount of n=1870 datasets from 18 months were analyzed after multiplying
the dose length product with conversion factor k for each lumbar segment. For lumbar epidural injections (n=1286), a
mean effective dose of 1.34 mSv (CI 95%, 1.30-1.38), for periradicular injections (n=584) a mean effective dose of 1.38
mSv (CI 95%, 1.32-1.44) were calculated.
Computed tomography; CT; guidance; epidural; perineural; periradicular; injections; spinal; interventions; radiation; dose.
In order to assess the efficacy of epidural steroid injections (ESI) in acute and subacute pain due to lumbar spine disk herniation, we conducted a randomized trial, comparing 2 different protocols. Fourty patients with radicular pain due to L4-L5 and L5-S1 disc herniation were assigned to receive either 3 consecutive ESI every 24 hours through a spinal catheter (group A) or 3 consecutive ESI every 10 days with an epidural needle (group B). All patients had improved Oswestry Disabilty Index (ODI) and the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) for pain scores at 1 month of follow-up compared to baseline, while no significant differences were observed between the 2 groups. The scores for group B were statistically significant lower at 2 months of follow-up compared to those of group A. The improvement in the scores of group B was continuous since the mean scores at 2 months of follow up were lower compared to the respective scores at 1 month. Protocol B (3 consecutive ESI every 10 days) was found more effective in the treatment of subacute pain compared to Protocol A (3 consecutive ESI every 24 hours) with statistically significant differences in the ODI and VAS scores at 2 months of follow-up.
Low back pain; radicular pain; lumbar spine; disk herniation; epidural injections.
In the midthoracic region, a fluroscope guided epidural block has been proposed by using a pedicle as a landmark to show the height of the interlaminar space (Nagaro's method). However, clinical implication of this method was not fully evaluated. We studied the clinical usefulness of a fluoroscope guided thoracic epidural block in the midthoracic region.
Twenty four patients were scheduled to receive an epidural block at the T6-7 intervertebral space. The patients were placed in the prone position. The needle entry point was located at the junction between midline of the pedicle paralleled to the midline of the T7 vertebral body (VB) and the lower border of T7 VB on anteroposterior view of the fluoroscope. The needle touched and walked up the lamina, and the interlaminar space (ILS) was sought near the midline of the VB at the height of the pedicle.
The authors could not insert an epidural needle at T6-7 ILS in two patients and it was instead inserted at T5-6 ILS. However, other patients showed easy insertion at T6-7 ILS. The mean inward and upward angulations were 25° and 55° respectively. The mean actual depth and calculated depth from skin to thoracic epidural space were 5.1 cm and 6.1 cm respectively. Significant correlation between actual needle depth and body weight, podendal index (kg/m) or calculated needle depth was noted.
The fluorposcope guided epidural block by Nagaro's method was useful in the midthoracic region. However, further study for the caudal shift of needle entry point may be needed.
Analgesia; Epidural; Fluoroscopy; Thoracic vertebrae
Herniated intervertebral disc causes in a great number of cases of lumbar nerve root compression, especially in the segment L5/S1. Other reasons responsible for stress to the lumbar spinal root are the spinal canal stenosis and the postdiscotomy syndrome. For patients without neurological deficiencies, the conservative treatment includes different epidural injection techniques. Steroids are often applied. A specific injection technique needing only a small drug amount is the epidural perineural approach using a special two-needle technique. The anatomical spaces of the nerve roots have received little attention in therapy. We have determined the anterolateral epidural space nerve volume of the nerve root L5/S1, and compared the data collected in an anatomical study with operative measurements during discectomy. The volume determination in the human cadavers was performed with liquid silicone filling the anterolateral space after dissection. The in vivo measurements were performed during surgery at the site of the anterolateral space after discectomy. The anatomical studies showed us a mean value volume of 1.1 ml. The surgical volume determinations result in a mean volume of 0.9 ml. A better understanding of the anterolateral epidural space may allow a reduction of the injection volume in the conservative nerve root compression treatment, especially using the epidural perineural technique, avoiding the risk of side effects of high doses of steroids.
Lumbar nerve root compression; Anatomical volume determination; Epidural–perineural injection technique
The present study was undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of transforaminal epidural steroid injection (TFESI) with using a preganglionic approach for treating lumbar radiculopathy when the nerve root compression was located at the level of the supra-adjacent intervertebral disc.
Materials and Methods
The medical records of the patients who received conventional TFESI at our department from June 2003 to May 2004 were retrospectively reviewed. TFESI was performed in a total of 13 cases at the level of the exiting nerve root, in which the nerve root compression was at the level of the supra-adjacent intervertebral disc (the conventional TFESI group). Since June 2004, we have performed TFESI with using a preganglionic approach at the level of the supra-adjacent intervertebral disc (for example, at the neural foramen of L4-5 for the L5 nerve root) if the nerve root compression was at the level of the supra-adjacent intervertebral disc. Using the inclusion criteria described above, 20 of these patients were also consecutively enrolled in our study (the preganglionic TFESI group). The treatment outcome was assessed using a 5-point patient satisfaction scale and by using a VAS (visual assessment scale). A successful outcome required a patient satisfaction scale score of 3 (very good) or 4 (excellent), and a reduction on the VAS score of > 50% two weeks after performing TFESI. Logistic regression analysis was also performed.
Of the 13 patients in the conventional TFESI group, nine showed satisfactory improvement two weeks after TFESI (69.2%). However, in the preganglionic TFESI group, 18 of the 20 patients (90%) showed satisfactory improvement. The difference between the two approaches in terms of TFESI effectiveness was of borderline significance (p = 0.056; odds ratio: 10.483).
We conclude that preganglionic TFESI has the better therapeutic effect on radiculopathy caused by nerve root compression at the level of the supra-adjacent disc than does conventional TFESI, and the diffence between the two treatments had borderline statistical significance.
Spine, interventional procedure; Spine, therapeutic radiology
The transforaminal epidural injection (TFEI) has been preferred in many cases because it can deliver the injected dose of medication closer to the nerve root and better facilitate ventral epidural flow compared to other methods. However, in patients with deformities not demonstrated on fluoroscopic imaging, the needle may enter unwanted locations. We treated two cases of intradiscal injection of contrast dye, during the TFEI, in patients with lumbar disc herniation.
Disc herniation; Discitis; Discogram; Epidural; Transforaminal
To observe the contrast spreading patterns in the retrodiscal (RD) approach for transforaminal epidural steroid injections and their effect on pain reduction.
Patients with L5 radiculopathy who were scheduled to receive lumbar TF-EPB were consecutively included. We randomly divided them into the L4-5 RD and L5-S1 RD groups and administered 1 cc of contrast dye into epidural space. We observed the shape and the location of contrast dye on the anterior-posterior and lateral views. We injected 1 cc of 0.5% lidocaine mixed with 20 mg of triamcinolone, and checked the pain intensity before and two weeks after the procedure by using visual analogue scale (VAS).
In the L4-5 RD group (n=30), contrast spread over the L4 nerve root in 27 cases and the L4 and L5 nerve roots in 3 cases. In the L5-S1 RD group (n=33), contrast spread over the L5 nerve root in 20 cases, the S1 nerve root in 3 cases, and the L5 and the S1 nerve roots in 10 cases. The contrast spreading patterns could be divided into 4 patterns: the proximal root in 40 cases, the distal root in 19 cases, the anterior epidural space in 3 cases and an undefined pattern in 1 case.
In RD lumbar TF-EPB, the contrast dye mostly went into the cephalic root and about 60% spread over the proximal nerve root. There was less pain reduction when the contrast dye spread over the distal nerve root.
Contrast dye; Epidural block; Retrodiscal; Transforaminal