Inflamed spinal nerve roots can cause pain and discomfort within the neck, back and leg. In some cases our trained Radiologists can inject a mixture of steroid and local anaesthetic to attempt to relieve this pain and discomfort. The CT scanner helps to accurately guide the injection.
You will have an opportunity to discuss the procedure with the Radiologist shortly before the procedure and they will run through the benefits and risks.
Before the procedure it is important to inform the Radiologist and nursing staff if you have any allergies and if you are taking any blood thinning medication such as warfarin. It is also important to let us know if you have an active infection and are taking antibiotics.
You will be asked to lie onto the CT scanner, usually either on your back or on your front. The area will be cleaned and you will feel a sharp sting as the local anaesthetic is injected into the skin. Once this becomes numb you should feel less discomfort.
The needle is guided to the correct area using the CT scanner and the mix of local anaesthetic and steroid is then injected. The procedure usually takes up to 30 minutes in total but this can vary.
The risks are considered low for the procedure.
All CT scans use radiation however the doses are usually small and the benefits of carrying out the procedure are usually thought to far outweigh the risk associated with radiation.
Some may feel worsening of the pain or even weakness in a limb which usually wears off after a couple of hours.
If you are diabetic the steroid injection can affect your glucose control and so this should be carefully monitored in the hours and days after the procedure.
Other risks include infection, bleeding and facial flushing which can occur with steroid injection.
When the nerve root injection is within the neck, there is a very small risk of stroke (less than 1 in 1000) however we do all we can to minimise this risk.
Overall we consider the procedure to be safe and usually the benefits far outweigh the risks.
You will be monitored for a short period after the procedure. It is advisable that you do not drive home and are collected.
You may feel an immediate improvement in your symptoms due to the local anaesthetic however once this wears off you may feel an initial worsening of your initial symptoms. It can take up to three weeks for the steroid to begin to work. The response can be quite variable and the relief from symptoms can last from weeks to months.