Transforaminal lumbar steroid injections risks

If you’ve struggled with back pain for any length of time, you may be wondering if spine surgery is your only treatment option. Sometimes, surgery is the only treatment. However, there’s good news. The vast majority of back problems can be remedied with non-surgical treatments—often referred to as non-surgical or conservative therapies.
Computer-assisted image guidance allows surgeons to view the operative site in far finer clarity than traditional visualization techniques. Aging, improper body mechanics, trauma and structural abnormalities can injure your spine, leading to back pain and other symptoms such as leg pain and/or numbness or even leg weakness. Chronic back pain is a condition that generally requires a team of health professionals to diagnose and treat. Before resigning yourself to surgery, consider getting opinions from several spine specialists. This investment of time and information-gathering will help you make an informed treatment decision that will best support your lifestyle and desired level of physical activity.

With a transforaminal epidural steroid injection (ESI), often referred to as a 'nerve block', the needle is placed alongside the nerve as it exits the spine, and medication is placed into the 'nerve sleeve'. The medication then travels up the sleeve and into the epidural space from the side. This allows for a more concentrated delivery of steroid into one affected area (usually one segment and one side). Transforaminal ESIs can also be modified slightly to allow for more specific coverage of a single nerve and can provide diagnostic benefit, in addition to improved pain and function.

What are the risks and side effects?
Generally speaking, transforaminal injections are is safe. However, with any procedure there are risks, side effects and possibility of complications. The most common side effect is pain from the actual injection once the local anesthetic wears off and this pain is temporary. The other uncommon risk involve spinal puncture with headaches, infection, bleeding inside the epidural space, nerve damage and worsening of symptoms. Other uncommon risks are related to the side effects of the long acting steroid such as weight gain, increase in blood sugar in diabetics, water retention and suppression of body's own natural production of steroids.

The needle is smaller in size than that used during a conventional epidural approach. The procedure is performed with the patient lying on their belly using fluoroscopic (real-time x-ray) guidance, which helps to prevent damage to the nerve root. A radiopaque dye is injected to enhance the fluoroscopic images and to confirm that the needle is properly placed (See Figure 2). This technique allows the glucocorticoid medicine to be placed closer to the irritated nerve root than using conventional interlaminar epidural approach. The exposure to radiation is minimal.

Transforaminal lumbar steroid injections risks

transforaminal lumbar steroid injections risks

The needle is smaller in size than that used during a conventional epidural approach. The procedure is performed with the patient lying on their belly using fluoroscopic (real-time x-ray) guidance, which helps to prevent damage to the nerve root. A radiopaque dye is injected to enhance the fluoroscopic images and to confirm that the needle is properly placed (See Figure 2). This technique allows the glucocorticoid medicine to be placed closer to the irritated nerve root than using conventional interlaminar epidural approach. The exposure to radiation is minimal.

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