What will happen?
The procedure is most often done on an outpatient basis.
You will arrive in the Interventional Radiology Suite where the interventional radiologist (a doctor specially trained to perform this procedure) and radiographer will explain the procedure and answer your questions. The study usually takes about 10-15 minutes but may take longer depending on the complexity of the lower spine anatomy. After completion, you will be monitored for 25-30 minutes for possible complications.
Do I need any test before the procedure?
As we need to administer contrast (X-ray dye), you should discuss any allergy history (particularly to Iodine) with the radiologist prior to booking the procedure.
If you are on any form of anticoagulation or anti-platelet therapy, it will be stopped and blood tests for the assessment of coagulation profile (Pl/PTT/platelets) will be organized.
No sedation is usually required. You will be lying on your stomach and the radiologist will identify the spot where the injection should be given (usually at the lowest part of your back). Local anesthetic will be applied under sterile conditions. The radiologist will use X-rays guidance to insert a tiny needle into the epidural space at the level of interest. Contrast will be injected to confirm good position of the needle and to assess the distribution of medication. The drugs will be slowly administered through the needle.
What will I feel? Does it hurt?
You will feel a bee sting when the doctor numbs the skin. You may feel some mild pressure during medication administration.
Most patient feel significant pain relief immediately after the injection. The pain may come back later in a day or tomorrow before it disappears again. The full effect of the treatment will be obvious only after 5-7 days.
What are the risks?
Risk of bleeding or infection at the injection site is extremely low.
Extremely rarely there might be temporary increase in pain when the medication is injected.
Very seldom your blood pressure may fluctuate immediately after the block and you may feel dizzy. Even if it happens, it will disappear in a few minutes. However, this is the main reason that you must have somebody with you to drive you home.
When will I get my results?
The radiologist will be able to talk to you after the procedure, but all the relevant details will only be available at your official appointment with referring doctor.
When will I resume my normal activities?
You will be able to get back to your normal life the next day. You will have to avoid any heavy physical activity in a first 24 hours.