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J Clin Anesth. 2013 Dec;25(8):629-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2013.07.002. Epub 2013 Aug 27.

The effect of epidural methylprednisolone acetate injection on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Author information

1
Rheumatology Clinic, Nazareth Hospital, Nazareth 16000, Israel; Deputy, Department of Medicine, Carmel Medical Center, Haifa, Technion Faculty of Medicine, Haifa 34362, Israel. Electronic address: gshabib@gmail.com.
2
Central Laboratory, Nazareth Hospital, Nazareth 16000, Israel.
3
Department of Anesthesiology, Nazareth Hospital, Nazareth 16000, Israel.
4
Department of Orthopedics, Nazareth Hospital, Nazareth 16000, Israel.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate the effect of an epidural corticosteroid injection of 80 mg and 40 mg of methylprednisolone acetate on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and on back pain.

DESIGN:

Randomized, single-blinded prospective study.

SETTING:

Operating room of a university-affiliated hospital.

PATIENTS:

42 patients with low back pain due to radiculopathy.

INTERVENTIONS:

Group 1 received an epidural corticosteroid injection of 80 mg of methylprednisolone acetate, and Group 2 received an epidural corticosteroid injection of 40 mg of methylprednisolone acetate. All study patients underwent a stimulation test of one μg of adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH), and their pain levels were graded just prior to and following the epidural corticosteroid injection on weeks one, 3, and 4.

MEASUREMENTS:

Serum cortisol of the ACTH stimulation tests and back pain levels were rated using a visual analog scale (VAS). Serum cortisol levels lower than 18 ng/mL 30 minutes following the ACTH stimulation test were considered to be secondary adrenal insufficiency.

MAIN RESULTS:

21 patients were enrolled in each group. The rate of secondary adrenal insufficiency in Group 1 was ~86%, ~ 22%, and ~17% of patients versus ~53% (P = 0.024), 15% (P = 0.874), and ~12% (P = 0.715) of Group 2 patients at weeks one, 3, and 4, respectively. About 62%, 56%, and 39% of Group 1 patients had a favorable clinical response as opposed to ~47% (P = 0362), 35% (P = 0.21), and ~6% (P = 0.049) of Group 2 patients at weeks one, 3, and 4, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS:

Epidural corticosteroid injection of methylprednisolone acetate in both groups was associated with very high rates of secondary adrenal insufficiency, but significantly more so in Group 1 at week one. This suppression was transient, with recovery of the gland in most patients noted over the ensuing weeks. An epidural corticosteroid injection of 80 mg had higher rates of favorable clinical response than a 40 mg injection, but significantly more so at week 4 only. This favorable response waned over a few weeks in both groups.

KEYWORDS:

Back pain; Corticosteroids; Epidural analgesia; Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis; Methylprednisolone acetate; Secondary adrenal insufficiency; chronic

PMID:
23988802
DOI:
10.1016/j.jclinane.2013.07.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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