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Pain Physician. 2014 Jul-Aug;17(4):291-6.

Fluoroscopically guided infiltration of the cervical nerve root: an indirect approach through the ipsilateral facet joint.

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Second Radiology Department, University General Hospital "ATTIKON," Athens, Greece; and Geneva Imaging Center, Geneva, Switzerland.


Transforaminal infiltrations in the cervical spine are governed by a higher rate of vascular puncture than in the lumbar spine. The purpose of our study is to assess the safety and efficacy of percutaneous, fluoroscopically guided nerve root infiltrations in cases of cervical radiculopathy. An indirect postero-lateral approach was performed through the ipsilateral facet joint. During the last 2 years, 25 patients experiencing cervical radiculopathy underwent percutaneous, fluoroscopically guided nerve root infiltrations by means of an indirect postero-lateral approach through the ipsilateral facet joint. The intra-articular position of the needle (22-gauge spinal needle) was fluoroscopically verified after injection of a small amount of contrast medium which also verified dispersion of the contrast medium periradicularly and in the epidural space. Then a mixture of long-acting glucocorticosteroid diluted in normal saline (1.5/1 mL) was injected intra-articularly. A questionnaire with a Numeric Visual Scale (NVS) scale helped assess pain relief, life quality, and mobility improvement. A mean of 2.3 sessions was performed in the patients of our study. In the vast majority of our patients 19/25 (76%), the second infiltration was performed within 7-10 days of the first one. Comparing the pain scores prior (mean value 8.80 ± 1.080 NVS units) and after (mean value 1.84 ± 1.405 NVS units), there was a mean decrease of 6.96 ± 1.695 NVS units [median value 7 NVS units (P < 0.001) in terms of pain reduction, effect upon mobility, and life quality. There were no clinically significant complications noted in our study. Fluoroscopically guided transforaminal infiltrations through the ipsilateral facet joint seem to be a feasible, efficacious, and safe approach for the treatment of patients with cervical radiculopathy. This approach facilitates needle placement and minimizes risk of complications.

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