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      Outcomes of C1–2 joint injections

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          Intra-articular injections of the C1–2 joint are an effective therapeutic option for pain generated from degenerative and inflammatory conditions affecting the joint. Limited information exists about the adverse events (AEs) associated with these injections. The primary aim of this study is to describe the frequency and type of AEs associated with C1–2 joint injections. The secondary aim is to identify clinical factors associated with the occurrence of AEs of C1–2 joint injections.


          A retrospective chart review was conducted on all C1–2 joint injections performed at the Mayo Pain Medicine Clinic in Rochester, MN, from January 1, 2005 through July 31, 2015. AE data were extracted from procedural and post-procedural clinical notes. Analysis was conducted to determine correlations between any AE and demographic and clinical characteristics. Using univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses, associations were determined.


          From January 1, 2005 to July 31, 2015, 135 C1–2 injections were performed on 72 patients. Overall, at least 1 AE was reported in 18.5% of the injections. The most common AEs were post-procedural increase in pain and procedural vascular contrast uptake. There was a significant association between AE occurrence and greater pre-procedural maximum pain score.


          AEs from C1–2 joint injections occurred commonly, but there were no persistent or serious AEs associated with these injections. The data also demonstrate that patients with higher pre-procedural maximum pain scores are more likely to experience an AE.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Adverse central nervous system sequelae after selective transforaminal block: the role of corticosteroids.

          Selective transforaminal epidural injections are frequently employed in the treatment of pain emanating from the spine. Complication rates are typically low and include paresthesia, hematoma, epidural abscess, meningitis, arachnoiditis and inadvertent subdural or subarachnoid injection. Persistent paraplegia after lumbar transforaminal block has been recently reported. Undetected intra-arterial injection has been implicated as a possible cause. We present a case of massive cerebellar infarction after uneventful selective cervical transforaminal block. Intra-arterial injection of corticosteroid is implicated with focus on particulate size of compound versus blood vessel dimension. Light microscopic data are presented to confirm the potential for embolic vascular occlusion. Case report; light microscopic data. A patient underwent selective transforaminal block on the right at the C5-C6 level. There was C5-C6 disc herniation documented by magnetic resonance imaging and C6 radiculopathy by electromyographic studies. Patient follow-up from medical office records. Needle placement at the C5-C6 foramen on the right was confirmed by biplanar fluoroscopy and injection of contrast medium. Frequent heme-negative aspirations were documented. In this patient, quadriparesis ensued shortly after injection of corticosteroid solution. The patient was admitted to the neurosurgical intensive care unit and ultimately underwent brainstem decompressive surgery when focal neurologic deficits became evident. Working diagnosis was massive cerebellar infarct. Light microscopic data are presented to illustrate particulate size in corticosteroid solutions and potential for embolic microvascular occlusion. Corticosteroid suspensions (and to a lesser extent solutions) contain large particles capable of occluding metarterioles and arterioles. We present a case of quadriparesis and brainstem herniation after selective cervical transforaminal block. We propose a potential role for corticosteroid particulate embolus during unintended intra-arterial injection as a potential mechanism.
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            Cervical transforaminal epidural steroid injections: more dangerous than we think?

            Survey/case series. To survey pain physicians about neurologic infarctions following cervical transforaminal epidural steroid injections (TF-ESIs). Cervical TF-ESIs are commonly performed in patients with cervical radiculopathy, although there are no randomized controlled studies supporting their efficacy. Eight case reports of brain and spinal cord infarction have been published. In addition, one of the investigators (M.S.W.) has reviewed 4 cases of major cerebellum/brainstem infarction following cervical TF-ESIs with methylprednisolone. To better characterize these complications, anonymous surveys were sent to all U.S. physician members of the American Pain Society. Respondents were asked about awareness of complications, year of occurrence, practice setting and specialty of the treating physician, use of fluoroscopy/contrast/local anesthetic/corticosteroid, doses administered, and CT/MRI/autopsy findings. Overall response rate was 21.4% (287 of 1340). In all, 78 complications were reported, including 16 vertebrobasilar brain infarcts, 12 cervical spinal cord infarcts, and 2 combined brain/spinal cord infarcts. Brain infarcts invariably involved the cerebellum, brainstem, or posterior cerebral artery territory. Thirteen cases resulted in a fatal outcome: 5 with brain infarcts, 1 with combined brain/spinal cord infarcts, 1 following high spinal anesthesia, 1 associated with a seizure, and 5 with unspecified etiology. All 4 cases with corticosteroid alone involved methylprednisolone, resulting in 3 cerebellar infarcts and 1 posterior cerebral territory infarct. Of these, 3 had fatal outcomes and 2 autopsies revealed no vertebral artery trauma. This study demonstrates a significant risk of serious neurologic injury after cervical TF-ESIs. A growing body of evidence supports an embolic mechanism, whereby inadvertent intra-arterial injection of particulate corticosteroid causes a distal infarct. Embolism to the distal basilar artery region can cause midbrain, pons, cerebellum, thalamus, temporal and occipital lobe infarctions. Other potential mechanisms of infarction include vertebral artery perforation causing dissection/thrombosis and needle-induced vasospasm.
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              Safeguards to prevent neurologic complications after epidural steroid injections: consensus opinions from a multidisciplinary working group and national organizations.

              Epidural corticosteroid injections are a common treatment for radicular pain caused by intervertebral disc herniations, spinal stenosis, and other disorders. Although rare, catastrophic neurologic injuries, including stroke and spinal cord injury, have occurred with these injections.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                18 September 2017
                : 10
                : 2263-2269
                [1 ]Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
                [2 ]Division of Pain Medicine, Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Mayo Clinic
                [3 ]Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Tim J Lamer, Mayo Clinic, Division of Pain Medicine, Spine Center, 200 1st Street SW, Rochester, MN, USA, Phone +1 507 284 2511, Email lamer.tim@ 123456mayo.edu
                © 2017 Aiudi et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                c1–2 joint, facet, injection, adverse event


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