The Efficacy of Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections in Patients with Lumbar Disc Herniations

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INTRODUCTION:Lumbar epidural steroid injection can be accomplished by one of three methods: caudal (C), interlaminar (IL), or transforaminal (TF). In this study we sought to determine the efficacy of these techniques for the management of radicular pain associated with lumbar disk herniations.METHODS:Ninety patients aged 18–60 years with L5-S1 disk herniations and radicular pain were randomly assigned to one of these groups to have epidural steroid injection therapy every 2 wk for a maximum of three injections. Pain relief, disability, and activity levels were assessed.RESULTS:Pain relief was significantly more effective with TF injections. At 24 wk from the initiation of this study, pain relief was as follows: C: complete pain relief: 1/30, partial pain relief: 16/30, and no relief: 13/30; IL: complete pain relief: 3/30, partial pain relief: 15/30, and no relief: 12/30; and TF: complete pain relief: 9/30, partial pain relief: 16/30, and no relief: 5/30.CONCLUSIONS:The TF route of epidural steroid placement is more effective than the C or IL routes. We attribute this observation to a higher incidence of steroid placement in the ventral epidural space when the TF method is used.

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