The Effectiveness and Risks of Fluoroscopically Guided Lumbar Interlaminar Epidural Steroid Injections: A Systematic Review with Comprehensive Analysis of the Published Data

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Abstract

Objective. To determine the effectiveness and risks of fluoroscopically guided lumbar interlaminar epidural steroid injections.

Design. Systematic review of the literature with comprehensive analysis of the published data.

Interventions. Three reviewers with formal training in evidence-based medicine searched the literature on fluoroscopically guided lumbar interlaminar epidural steroid injections. A larger team consisting of five reviewers independently assessed the methodology of studies found and appraised the quality of the evidence presented.

Outcome Measures. The primary outcome assessed was pain relief. Other outcomes such as functional improvement, reduction in surgery rate, decreased use of opioids/medications, and complications were noted, if reported. The evidence on each outcome was appraised in accordance with the Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system of evaluating evidence.

Results. The search yielded 71 primary publications addressing fluoroscopically guided lumbar interlaminar epidural steroid injections. There were no explanatory studies and all pragmatic studies identified were of low quality, yielding evidence comparable to observational studies.

Conclusions. The body of evidence regarding effectiveness of fluoroscopically guided interlaminar epidural steroid injection is of low quality according to GRADE. Studies suggest a lack of effectiveness of fluoroscopically guided lumbar interlaminar epidural steroid injections in treating primarily axial pain regardless of etiology. Most studies on radicular pain due to lumbar disc herniation and stenosis do, however, report statistically significant short-term improvement in pain.

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