Author(s): Pfirrmann CW, Oberholzer PA, Zanetti M, Boos N, Trudell DJ,
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Abstract PURPOSE: To relate different types of radiographic contrast material distributions to anatomic compartments by using cadaveric specimens and to relate the injection site to treatment-induced discomfort and therapeutic effect. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The contrast material distributions of selective nerve root blocks (SNRBs) in 36 patients (13 women, 23 men; mean age, 52 years; age range, 22-88 years) were graded by two radiologists in conference as type 1 (tubular appearance), type 2 (nerve root visible as filling defect), or type 3 (nerve root not visible). These patterns were correlated with pain reduction after 15 minutes and 2 weeks (with a visual analogue scale of 100-mm length). In addition, 30 nerve roots were injected with iodine-containing contrast material and blue dye in three cadaveric specimens. Radiographs were compared with anatomic sections. RESULTS: After 15 minutes and 2 weeks, 75\% and 86\% of the patients, respectively, reported pain relief. Mean pain relief length after 15 minutes for type 1 distribution was 60 mm; for type 2, 44 mm; and for type 3, 22 mm; and after 2 weeks, it was 34 mm for type 1, 31 mm for type 2, and 57 mm for type 3. There was no correlation between early and late response. Pain during intervention was less pronounced in type 2 injection, compared with type 1 (P = .002). On the basis of anatomic sections, type 1 injection was intraepineural; type 2, extraepineural; and type 3, paraneural. CONCLUSION: Therapeutic SNRB is effective in sciatica, but early response does not predict the effect after 2 weeks. Type 1 injections are more painful than type 2 injections.
This article was published in Radiology
and referenced in Journal of Pain & Relief