The Effectiveness of Lumbar Interlaminar Epidural Injections in Managing Chronic Low Back and Lower Extremity Pain

Millennium Pain Center, Bloomington, IL, USA.
Pain physician (Impact Factor: 3.54). 07/2012; 15(4):E363-404.
Source: PubMed


Intervertebral disc herniation, spinal stenosis, intervertebral disc degeneration without disc herniation, and post lumbar surgery syndrome are the most common diagnoses of chronic persistent low back and lower extremity symptoms, resulting in significant economic, societal, and health care impact. Epidural injections are one of the most commonly performed interventions in the United States in managing chronic low back pain. However the evidence is highly variable among different techniques utilized - namely interlaminar, caudal, and transforaminal - and for various conditions, namely - intervertebral disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and discogenic pain without disc herniation or radiculitis. Multiple systematic reviews conducted in the evaluation of the effectiveness of interlaminar epidural injections have been marred with controversy. Consequently, the debate continues with regards to the effectiveness, indications, and medical necessity of interlaminar epidural injections.
A systematic review of lumbar interlaminar epidural injections with or without steroids.
To evaluate the effect of lumbar interlaminar epidural injections with or without steroids in managing various types of chronic low back and lower extremity pain emanating as a result of disc herniation or radiculitis, spinal stenosis, and chronic discogenic pain.
The available literature on lumbar interlaminar epidural injections with or without steroids in managing various types of chronic low back pain with or without lower extremity pain was reviewed. The quality assessment and clinical relevance criteria utilized were the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Review Group criteria as utilized for interventional techniques for randomized trials and the criteria developed by the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale criteria for observational studies. The level of evidence was classified as good, fair, or limited based on the quality of evidence developed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Data sources included relevant literature identified through searches of PubMed and EMBASE from 1966 to December 2011, and manual searches of the bibliographies of known primary and review articles.
The primary outcome measure was pain relief (short-term relief = up to 6 months and long-term > 6 months). Secondary outcome measures were improvement in functional status, psychological status, return to work, and reduction in opioid intake.
Overall, 82 lumbar interlaminar trials were identified. All non-randomized studies without fluoroscopy and randomized trials not meeting the inclusion criteria were excluded. Overall, 15 randomized trials and 11 non-randomized studies were included in the analysis. Analysis was derived mainly from fluoroscopically-guided randomized trials and non-randomized studies. The evidence is good for radiculitis secondary to disc herniation with local anesthetics and steroids, fair with local anesthetic only; whereas it is fair for radiculitis secondary to spinal stenosis with local anesthetic and steroids, and fair for axial pain without disc herniation with local anesthetic with or without steroids, with fluoroscopically-guided epidural injections.
The limitations of this study include that we were unable to perform meta-analysis for disc herniation, and the paucity of evidence for discogenic pain and spinal stenosis. Further, methodological criteria have been highly variable along with sample sizes. The studies were heterogenous.
The evidence based on this systematic review is good for lumbar epidural injections under fluoroscopy for radiculitis secondary to disc herniation with local anesthetic and steroids, fair with local anesthetic only; whereas it is fair for radiculitis secondary to spinal stenosis with local anesthetic and steroids, and fair for axial pain without disc herniation with local anesthetic with or without steroids.

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Available from: Ramsin Benyamin, Jul 07, 2014
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    • "The average relief over a period of 2 years was 71.1 ± 37.4 weeks over a period of 104 weeks. The results of this observational study illustrate that percutaneous adhesiolysis with targeted delivery of injectate is superior to either caudal or lumbar interlaminar epidural injections in central spinal stenosis, specifically in those who have failed to respond to fluoroscopically directed caudal or lumbar epidural injections 24,25,28,29. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Chronic persistent low back and lower extremity pain secondary to central spinal stenosis is common and disabling. Lumbar surgical interventions with decompression or fusion are most commonly performed to manage severe spinal stenosis. However, epidural injections are also frequently performed in managing central spinal stenosis. After failure of epidural steroid injections, the next sequential step is percutaneous adhesiolysis and hypertonic saline neurolysis with a targeted delivery. The literature on the effectiveness of percutaneous adhesiolysis in managing central spinal stenosis after failure of epidural injections has not been widely studied. Study Design: A prospective evaluation. Setting: An interventional pain management practice, a specialty referral center, a private practice setting in the United States. Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of percutaneous epidural adhesiolysis in patients with chronic low back and lower extremity pain with lumbar central spinal stenosis. Methods: Seventy patients were recruited. The initial phase of the study was randomized, double-blind with a comparison of percutaneous adhesiolysis with caudal epidural injections. The 25 patients from the adhesiolysis group continued with follow-up, along with 45 additional patients, leading to a total of 70 patients. All patients received percutaneous adhesiolysis and appropriate placement of the Racz catheter, followed by an injection of 5 mL of 2% preservative-free lidocaine with subsequent monitoring in the recovery room. In the recovery room, each patient also received 6 mL of 10% hypertonic sodium chloride solution, and 6 mg of non-particulate betamethasone, followed by an injection of 1 mL of sodium chloride solution and removal of the catheter. Outcomes Assessment: Multiple outcome measures were utilized including the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS), the Oswestry Disability Index 2.0 (ODI), employment status, and opioid intake with assessment at 3, 6, and 12, 18 and 24 months post treatment. The primary outcome measure was 50% or more improvement in pain scores and ODI scores. Results: Overall, a primary outcome or significant pain relief and functional status improvement of 50% or more was seen in 71% of patients at the end of 2 years. The overall number of procedures over a period of 2 years were 5.7 ± 2.73. Limitations: The lack of a control group and a prospective design. Conclusions: Significant relief and functional status improvement as seen in 71% of the 70 patients with percutaneous adhesiolysis utilizing local anesthetic steroids and hypertonic sodium chloride solution may be an effective management strategy in patients with chronic function limiting low back and lower extremity pain with central spinal stenosis after failure of conservatie management and fluoroscopically directed epidural injections.
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