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Cervical Epidural Injection

Cervical epidural steroid injection is indicated for radicular symptoms with or without axial neck pain.


Cervical Epidural Injection can be performed by:

Interlaminar cervical epidural injection (ic-ESI)


Transforaminal cervical epidural steroid injection.


Complications are rare but can be serious.

It is generally accepted that ic-ESI is safer than transforaminal epidurals. There are numerous reports of arterial invasion or irritation with the latter despite an inherently greater risk of cord puncture with the former. The likelihood of cord interruption rises when ic-ESIs are performed above C6-C7 as there is a relatively slim epidural layer compared to lower cervical epidural zones. Though most cases of devastating outcomes, such as hemiplegia and death, have been reported during cervical transforaminal epidural injections and rarely with ic-ESI, it is important to understand the symptoms and potential pitfalls of performing any cervical epidural injection.

Cervical epidural malpractice claims are uncommon, but exceed those of steroid blocks at all the levels combined, demonstrating the need for improved awareness of potential complications in ic-ESI 1).

Case reports

Here, we report the case of a 54-year-old man with cervical radicular pain who was treated with cervical epidural steroid injection. Injection was administered twice under fluoroscopic guidance with the loss-of-resistance technique using air to confirm the epidural space. After the second procedure, the patient complained of severe persistent headache and was diagnosed with pneumocephalus on brain computed tomography. The patient returned home without any neurological complication, after a few days of conservative treatment. Though, a fluoroscopic guidance cervical epidural injection is also known to diminish the risk of complications. Physicians should always keep in mind that it does not guarantee safety, particularly in the cervical region, related to its anatomical considerations.

Maddela R, Wahezi SE, Sparr S, Brook A. Hemiparesis and Facial Sensory Loss following Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection. Pain Physician. 2014 Dec;17(6):E761-7. PubMed PMID: 25415791.
cervical_epidural_injection.txt · Last modified: 2015/07/16 12:19 (external edit)