Kantonsspital St.Gallen

The value of short-term pain relief in predicting the 1-month outcome of 'indirect' cervical epidural steroid injections

Holger Joswig, Armin Neff-Schöb, Christina Ruppert, Gerhard Hildebrandt & Martin N. Stienen


Clinical management after epidural steroid injections (ESI) of patients with radiculopathy secondary to a cervical disc herniation (CDH) is uncertain. This study aims to determine whether short-term arm pain alleviation following computed tomography-guided 'indirect' cervical ESI can predict the 1-month outcome.

We conducted a prospective observation of 45 consecutive patients at a tertiary radiological department. Study components were visual analog scale arm and neck pain at baseline, 15, 30, and 45 min, 1, 2, and 4 h, on days 1-14, 1 month, and at 1 year. Health-related quality of life and functional impairment were assessed using the short form-12 and Neck Pain and Disability Scale. Patients who reported ≥80 % persisting arm pain, as well as patients who underwent a second injection or an operation within 1 month were defined as 'non-responders'. Logistic regression was used to analyze the effect size of the relationship between >50 % pain relief at any given study visit and responder status.

Patients experiencing a >50 % pain reduction 4 h after the injection were four times as likely to be responders as those experiencing ≤50 % pain reduction (OR 4.04, 95 % CI 1.10-14.87). The effect was strongest on days 5-6 (OR 18.37, 95 % CI 3.39-99.64) and remained significant until day 14.

The results of this study can guide physicians in managing patients with CDH: a ≤50 % arm pain relief within 1 week after an 'indirect' cervical ESI predicts an unfavorable 1-month outcome and suggests that other treatment options may be considered at an earlier point in time.
citation Joswig H, Neff-Schöb A, Ruppert C, Hildebrandt G, Stienen M N. The value of short-term pain relief in predicting the 1-month outcome of 'indirect' cervical epidural steroid injections. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 2016;.
type journal paper/review (English)
date of publishing 28-10-2016
journal title Acta Neurochir (Wien)
ISSN electronic 0942-0940
PubMed 27796650
DOI 10.1007/s00701-016-2997-8