Background context: Vascular penetration and injection of corticosteroids into a vessel during lumbosacral transforaminal epidural injection is a suspected cause of myelopathy. Blunt needles have been suggested to avoid vascular penetration, but they are difficult to navigate. Another alternative to the standard long-bevel sharp needles is the short-bevel needles. Some have postulated that short-bevel needles are the best option for high-risk spine injections because they maintain navigation characteristics while potentially reducing the risk of complications. To date, no studies have been performed to either confirm or refute this. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a difference in the incidence of vascular penetration during lumbosacral transforaminal epidural injections between short-bevel and long-bevel needles. Study design/setting: This is a prospective, observational, in vivo study. Patient sample: The sample comprises patients receiving lumbosacral transforaminal epidural injections at a university-based outpatient spine center. Outcome measure: The outcome measure was the incidence of vascular contrast patterns observed under live fluoroscopy. Methods: One interventional spine physician recorded contrast patterns observed during 158 fluoroscopically guided lumbosacral transforaminal epidural injections under live fluoroscopy using two different types of needle tips. Results: Vascular injections were observed in 22 of the 158 injections, for an overall incidence of 13.9%. The incidence of vascular injections in the short-bevel group was 15.6% (10/64) and in the long-bevel group was 12.8% (12/94). This difference was not statistically significant (p=.6447). A secondary analysis was performed to determine if the needle gauge influenced the incidence of vascular injections, and again, there were no statistical differences in the overall rates of vascular injection. Conclusions: In comparison with long-bevel needles, short-bevel needles do not reduce the risk of inadvertent vascular injection in lumbosacral transforaminal epidural injections.
- Epidural injections