Current Issue - November/December 2023 - Vol 26 Issue 7


  1. 2023;23;557-567Assessment of Radiation Exposure with Mandatory Two Fluoroscopic Views for Epidural Procedures
    Retrospective Study
    Laxmaiah Manchikanti, MD, Rachana Pasupuleti, MD, Vidyasagar Pampati, MSc, Mahendra R. Sanapati, MD, and Joshua A. Hirsch, MD.

BACKGROUND: Various regulations and practice patterns develop on the basis of Local Coverage Determination (LCD), which are variably perceived as guidelines and/or mandated polices/ regulations. LCDs developed in 2021 and effective since December 2021 mandated a minimum of 2 views for final needle placement with contrast injection which includes both anteroposterior (AP) and lateral or oblique view.

Radiation safety has been a major concern for pain physicians and multiple tools have been developed to reduce radiation dose, along with improvement in technologies to limit radiation exposure while performing fluoroscopically guided interventional procedures, with implementation of principles of As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA).

The mandated 2 views of epidural injections have caused concern among some physicians, because of the potential of increased exposure to ionizing radiation, despite application of various principles to minimize radiation exposure. Others, including policymakers are of the opinion that it reduces potential abuse and improves safety.

OBJECTIVE: To assess variations in the performance of epidural procedures prior to the implementation of the new LCD compared with after the implementation of the new LCD by comparing time and dosage for all types of epidural procedures.

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective, case controlled, comparative evaluation of radiation exposure during epidural procedures in interventional pain management.

SETTING: An interventional pain management practice and a specialty referral center in a private practice setting in the United States.

METHODS: The study was performed using the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) criteria. The main outcome measure was radiation exposure time measured in seconds and dose measured in mGy-kG2 (milligray to kilogray squared per procedure).

RESULTS: Changes in exposure and dose varied by procedural type and location. Exposure time in seconds increased overall by 21%, whereas radiation dose mGy-kG increased 133%. Fluoroscopy time increased most for lumbar interlaminar epidural injections of 43%, followed by 29% for cervical interlaminar epidural injections, 20% for caudal epidural injections, and 14% for lumbar transforaminal epidural injections. In contrast, highest increases were observed in the radiation dose mGy of 191% for caudal epidural injections, followed by 173% for lumbar interlaminar epidural injections, 113% for lumbar transforaminal epidural injections, and the lowest being cervical interlaminar epidural injections of 94%.

This study also shows lesser increases for cervical interlaminar epidural injections because an oblique view is utilized rather than a lateral view resulting in a radiation dosage increase of 94% compared to overall increase of 133%, whereas the duration of time of 29% was higher than the overall combined duration of all procedures which only increased by 21%.

LIMITATIONS: A retrospective evaluation utilizing the experience of a single physician.

CONCLUSION: The results of this study showed significant increases in radiation exposure time and dosage; however, increase of dosage was overall 21% median Interquartile Range (IQR) compared to 133% of radiation dose median IQR. In addition, the results also showed variations for procedure, overall showing highest increases for lumbar interlaminar epidural injections for time (43%) and caudal epidural injections for dosage (191%).

KEY WORDS: Spinal interventional procedures, cervical epidural injections, lumbar epidural injections, caudal epidural injections, lumbar transforaminal epidural injections, radiation exposure time, radiation dose