Ultrasound versus fluoroscopy-guided medial branch block for the treatment of lower lumbar facet joint pain: A retrospective comparative study

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The aim of this study was to compare the mid-term effects and benefits of ultrasound (US)-guided and fluoroscopy (FL)-guided medial branch blocks (MBBs) for chronic lower lumbar facet joint pain through pain relief, functional improvement, and injection efficiency evaluation.

Patients with chronic lumbar facet joint pain who received US (n = 68) or FL-guided MBBs (n = 78) were included in this retrospective study. All procedures were performed under FL or US guidance. Complication frequency, therapeutic effects, functional improvement, and the injection efficiency of MBBs were compared at 1, 3, and 6 months after the last injection.

Both the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and the verbal numeric pain scale (VNS) improved at 1, 3, and 6 months after the last injections in both groups. Statistical differences were not observed in ODI and VNS between the groups (P > .05). The proportion of patients who reported successful treatment outcomes showed no significant differences between the groups at different time points. Logistic regression analysis showed that sex, pain duration, injection methods, number of injections, analgesic use, and age were not independent predictors of a successful outcome. US guidance was associated with a significantly shorter performance time.

US-guided MBBs did not show significant differences in analgesic effect and functional improvement compared with the FL-guided approach. Therefore, by considering our data from this retrospective study, US-guided MBBs warrant consideration in the conservative management of lower lumbar facet joint pain.

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