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J Pain Res. 2018 Dec 31;12:171-177. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S181915. eCollection 2019.

The effectiveness of ultrasound-guided cervical transforaminal epidural steroid injections in cervical radiculopathy: a prospective pilot study.

Zhang X1,2, Shi H1,3, Zhou J1, Xu Y1, Pu S1, Lv Y1, Wu J1, Cheng Y1, Du D1.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Management Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Affiliated Sixth People's Hospital, Shanghai, China,;
Center for Translational Pain Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA,
Department of Anesthesiology, Shanghai Fourth People's Hospital, Shanghai, China.



Cervical transforaminal epidural steroid injection (CTFESI) is used to provide pain relief and restore function in patients with cervical radiculopathy. Traditionally, it is performed under the guidance of fluoroscopy or computed tomography. Here, we introduce a novel technique - ultrasound-guided CTFESI - with which operators can easily distinguish the close soft tissue (nerve, vessels) around the cervical foramina to avoid intravascular injection during the procedure.


To present the immediate and long-term effectiveness of ultrasound-guided CTFESI in patients with cervical radiculopathy in an academic pain-management center with prospective clinic experiments.


Fifteen patients with cervical radiculopathy who were resistant to conservative therapies and ultrasound-guided selective cervical spinal nerve-root injections, were treated with ultrasound-guided CTFESI. During the injection procedures, the needle tips were reconfirmed by real-time fluoroscopy. Pain numeric rating-scale and neck-disability-index scores were assessed from onset to six months after the procedures.


During the procedures, based on real-time fluoroscopic confirmation, the injection solution outlined the spinal nerve root and spread into the epidural space in most cases (14 of 15). All patients reported pain relief within 10 minutes after the injection. The majority of patients (eleven of 15) experienced pain relief and neck-disability index-score improvement throughout the 6-month study period. No patient experienced any complication.


We suggest that ultrasound-guided CTFESI is an effective, safe, and simple procedure free of radiation or magnetization and provides sustained pain relief in patients with cervical radiculopathy who have failed previous conservation therapies.


cervical radiculopathy; cervical transforaminal epidural steroid injection; steroid; ultrasound-guided

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

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