Image Guided Injections

An image guided injection involves a radiologist (specialist doctor) using either X-ray guidance or a computed tomography (CT) scanner to guide the injection of a thin needle containing corticosteroid (or ‘steroid’) into the site. The injections are designed to decrease inflammation and pain.
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Facet Joint Injections & Nerve Root Blocks

Injections into the sliding joints at the back of the spine (facet joints) or next to the nerve of the neck or lower back as they leave the spine (nerve root injection or blocks) are ways to treat neck, back and leg pain not helped by other treatments. 

How do I prepare for an Image Guided Injection?

There is no preparation required for the injection.

If you are on any medication to thin your blood (eg. Warfarin or Aspirin) please inform our staff at the time of booking. 

If you are on any other medication or have diabetes and are on insulin, take your usual medicine and diet. 

Please bring any previous x-rays or scans with you on the day or your examination

What to expect on the day?

While you lie flat on your stomach on an x-ray table, the cleaned back area will be injected with local anaesthetic.

Guided by x-ray or CT scanning, a needle will be put into the facet joint or next to the nerve. Local anaesthetic and cortisone (steroid) solution will be injected. This may be uncomfortable for a very short time during the injection until the local anaesthetic takes effect. 

This procedure takes approximately 30 minutes. Afterwards you may stay with us for a short time. You may then continue your usual activities or rest if you wish. 

It is best if you do not drive yourself home, but if unavoidable, allow 2 weeks for the effect of local anaesthetic to wear off. 

Rest is recommended after the procedure and you may need to take the rest of the day off work duties. 

How long will the treatment last?

The effect varies for different people. There may be relief for months to years, but this is a treatment, not a cure, for back problems. Come people get no benefit.

What are the side effects?

There may be slight soreness or bruising at the needle site.

Any other problems are very rare.
You may experience some numbness in the injected area or down the affected leg. Rarely does a headache occur as a side effect. 

You should minimise physical activity for 12 hours after the injection.

Very rarely serious side effects causing permanent neurological damage occur, which are independent of operator skill. The radiologist and your referring doctor will discuss this with you when obtaining your consent. 

This information is credited to Inside Radiology, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiology (RANZCR). June 2014

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