Cervical epidural steroid injections and spinal cord injuries.

Journal: The Spine Journal : Official Journal Of The North American Spine Society

Background context: Cervical interlaminar and transforaminal epidural steroid injections have been increasingly performed as a medical interventional treatment for pain. Purpose: This study aimed to examine if there was increasing proportion of cervical spinal cord injured acute rehabilitation hospital admissions related to cervical epidural injections because of increased use of the procedure. Additionally, this study aimed to determine risk factors that may have made these patients known higher risk premorbidly. Study design/setting: A retrospective chart review was carried out. Patient sample: The sample was from a 2001 to 2008 spinal cord-related injuries admitted to Magee Rehabilitation (2,770). A total of 1,343 patients were classified as having acute spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Of these patients, seven cases of SCI occurred after cervical epidural injections. Outcome measures: Chart data regarding characteristics of patients and proportion of SCI admissions to cervical epidural injections injuries were the outcome measures.

Methods: Parameters analyzed included age, sex, American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale on admission, mechanism of injury, presenting symptoms, time of onset, and risk factors. Proportion of SCI admissions to cervical epidural injections injuries was also analyzed.

Results: From the years 2001 to 2008, there were seven admissions for such injury with no change in the proportion of SCIs from cervical epidural injections relative to all SCIs. All were incomplete and mechanisms included anterior cord infarction (1), intraparenchymal injection (1), epidural abscess (2), contusion (1), epidural hematoma (1), and unknown (1). Presenting symptoms included hypotension, respiratory distress, chest pain, upper limb numbness, paresthesias, weakness, and fever. Symptom onset ranged from minutes to 72 hours after injection.

Conclusions: Although there is an increased use of interventional spine procedures to treat pain, this did not increase the proportion of cervical epidural-related SCI admissions. Additional research is needed to advocate reporting complications in all clinical settings.


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