Current Issue - May/June 2014 - Vol 17 Issue 3


  1. 2014;17;E385-E395The Potential Contributing Effect of Ketorolac and Fluoxetine to a Spinal Epidural Hematoma following a Cervical Interlaminar Epidural Steroid Injection: A Case Report and Narrative Review
    Case Control Study
    George C. Chang Chien, DO, Zachary McCormick, MD, Marco Araujo, MD, and Kenneth D. Candido, MD.

Cervical interlaminar epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are commonly performed as one part of a multi-modal analgesic regimen in the management of upper extremity radicular pain. Spinal epidural hematoma (SEH) is a rare complication with a reported incidence ranging from 1.38 in 10,000 to 1 in 190,000 epidurals. Current American Society of Regional Anesthesia (ASRA), American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP), and the International Spine Intervention Society (ISIS) recommendations are that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do not need to be withheld prior to epidural anesthesia. We report a case wherein intramuscular ketorolac and oral fluoxetine contributed to a SEH and tetraplegia following a cervical interlaminar (ESI).

A 66 year-old woman with chronic renal insufficiency and neck pain radiating into her right upper extremity presented for evaluation and was deemed an appropriate CESI candidate. Cervical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed multi-level neuroforaminal stenosis and degenerative intervertebral discs. Utilizing a loss of resistance to saline technique, an 18-gauge Tuohy-type needle entered the epidural space at C6-7. After negative aspiration, 4 mL of saline with 80 mg of methyl-prednisolone was injected. Immediately thereafter, the patient reported significant spasmodic-type localized neck pain with no neurologic status changes.

A decision was made to administer 30 mg intramuscular ketorolac as treatment for the spasmodic-type pain. En route home, she developed a sudden onset of acute tetraplegia. She was brought to the emergency department for evaluation including platelet and coagulation studies which were normal. MRI demonstrated an epidural hematoma extending from C5 to T7. She underwent a bilateral C5-T6 laminectomy with epidural hematoma evacuation and was discharged to an acute inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Chronic renal insufficiency, spinal stenosis, female gender, and increasing age have been identified as risk factors for SEH following epidural anesthesia. In the present case, it is postulated that after the spinal vascular system was penetrated, hemostasis was compromised by the combined antiplatelet effects of ketorolac, fluoxetine, fish oil, and vitamin E.

Although generally well tolerated, the role of ketorolac, a potent anti-platelet medication used for pain relief in the peri-neuraxial intervention period, should be seriously scrutinized when other analgesic options are readily available. Although the increased risk of bleeding for the alternative medications are minimal, they are nevertheless well documented. Additionally, their additive impairment on hemostasis has not been well characterized. Withholding NSAIDs, fluoxetine, fish oil, and vitamin E in the peri-procedural period is relatively low risk and should be considered for all patients with multiple risk factors for SEH.