Current Issue - May-June 2015 - Vol 18 Issue 3


  1. 2015;18;277-286Immediate and Acute Adverse Effects Following Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injections with Dexamethasone
    Prospective Study
    Omar El Abd, MD, Joao ED Amadera, MD, PhD, Daniel C Pimentel, MD, and Lorraine Gomba, MD.

BACKGROUND: Transforaminal epidural steroid injections (TFESI) are widely used for the conservative treatment of radicular pain. The use of dexamethasone in TFESIs is relatively new; therefore, immediate and acute adverse effects that it may cause are not fully updated. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate immediate and acute adverse effects following TFESI with dexamethasone. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, observational study. SETTING: A spine center affiliated with a rehabilitation hospital. METHODS: One hundred fifty consecutive patients receiving TFESI for the management of radicular and axial spinal pain at the cervical, lumbar, and sacral levels with dexamethasone using fluoroscopic guidance with digital subtraction technology were enrolled. The occurrence of adverse effects in patients in the 2-week time period following interventions was monitored through a set of questionnaires followed up by phone calls scheduled for 1 day, day 3, and day 14. Intensity and duration of side effects were recorded. RESULTS: Of the 150 patients enrolled, 31 patients (19.5%) experienced adverse effects within the first 30 minutes following the intervention. The most common adverse effects were numbness and tingling in the limb, which developed in 19 patients (11.95%) followed by perineal pruritus that occurred in 7 cases (4.4%). Patients also reported experiencing adverse effects within the 3 days following intervention; most complained of headaches, insomnia, hiccups, flushing, and increased radicular pain. No major complications were noted. LIMITATIONS: The sample size enrolled might be too small to perceive possible rare side effects related to the procedure. The 2-week follow-up period is a limitation for evaluating late side effects. CONCLUSIONS: This study offers provision to interventionalists that TFESI with dexamethasone when performed by experienced hands and with proper technique has minor self-limited transient adverse effects that can be easily managed. Patients should be made aware of these adverse effects and their management. Further larger studies are needed to validate the safe use of dexamethasone and the safety of transforaminal epidural injections.