Background and Objectives: For diagnostic lumbar medial-branch blocks, fluoroscopic guidance is considered mandatory, but this technique comes with radiation exposure. The clinical feasibility of the ultrasound-guided lumbar medial-branch block has been demonstrated. We evaluated the success rate and validity of this new method by use of fluoroscopy controls in patients previously diagnosed with lumbar facet joint-mediated pain.
Methods: In 20 patients, 101 lumbar medial-branch blocks were performed under ultrasound guidance. The target point was the groove at the cephalad margin of the transverse process adjacent to the superior articular process. C-arm fluoroscopy was performed afterward to confirm the needle position. Pain scores were assessed by use of visual analog scale (VAS 0 to 100).
Results: All 101 needles were placed in the correct lumbar segment. Ninety-six of the 101 needletips were in the correct position with a success rate of 95%. Two needles were associated with intravascular spread of the contrast dye. VAS score was reduced from 52 to 16 after the block.
Conclusions: Ultrasound-guided lumbar medial-branch blocks can be performed with a high success rate. However, to be completely independent from fluoroscopy controls, this technique requires further studies regarding the detection of intravascular spread.
- Facet joint
- Low-back pain
- Medial-branch block
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