CT-guided transforaminal epidural injections with local anesthetic, steroid, and tramadol for the treatment of persistent lumbar radicular pain.
Pain Physician. 2012 Mar-Apr;15(2):153-9
Authors: Wewalka M, Abdelrahimsai A, Wiesinger GF, Uher EM
BACKGROUND: A substantial number of patients with persistent lumbar radicular pain are treated with a multimodal spectrum of conservative therapies without lasting effect. The duration of pain is certainly a risk factor for chronification. There is evidence that guided periradicular infiltrations are a valid option in the treatment of radiculopathies. Usually a combination of local anesthetic and/or corticosteroid is injected. Tramadol is being used for perioperative analgesia and has been shown to provide effective, long-lasting pain relief after epidural administration.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the efficacy of serial CT-guided transforaminal nerve root infiltrations with a supplement of tramadol for patients with persistent, radicular pain.
STUDY DESIGN: Interventional cohort study.
SETTING: Outpatient department for interdisciplinary pain medicine.
METHODS: 37 patients who had radicular leg pain for over 9 weeks received up to 3 CT-guided transforaminal nerve root infiltrations at intervals of 2 weeks as long as their level of pain was over 3 on a numerical rating scale from 0 to 10. 50 mg of Tramadol were added to a combination of local anesthetic (Ropivacain, 2 mg) and corticosteroid (Triamcinolon, 40 mg). Evaluations were carried out 24 hours after the Infiltration as well as 2 weeks, 3 and 6 months after the treatment series. The intensity of their radicular pain was measured by a numerical rating scale (NRS). Pain reduction of at least 50% was defined as successful outcome.
RESULTS: In total, 65 infiltrations were carried out with pain relief in more than 90% of the patients within 24 hours and an average pain reduction of 64%. Six months post-injection 23 of 34 patients available for follow-up (67.6%) had a successful pain reduction of 84% on average. No adverse effects ascribable to the use of tramadol were noted.
LIMITATIONS: Due to the lack of a control group we cannot make any statement if tramadol improves short-term pain reduction.
CONCLUSION: Fast and lasting pain relief is the key to optimize rehabilitation for patients with radicular pain. There is a physiological rationale that the opioid receptors at the spinal level could be used to optimize the analgetic effect of guided periradicular injections. In our case series, serial CT-guided selective nerve root infiltrations with the supplement of tramadol were found to be highly effective in the treatment of persistant radiculopathies. Randomized controlled trials will be necessary to clarify the possible benefit of the supplement of an opioid.
PMID: 22430653 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]