Current Issue - May/June 2024 - Vol 27 Issue 4


  1. 2024;27;E407-E418The Effect of Sedation on Diagnostic Lumbar Medial Branch Blocks for Facetogenic Low Back Pain: An Observational Study
    Observational Study
    Nimesh Patel, MD, Katherine Nowak, PhD, Ashwin Vaidyanathan, MD, Hannah Milad, MD Candidate, Katie Adlaka, MD Candidate, Cameron Rubino, MD Candidate, Erika Taco Vasquez, MD, Lakshmi Nerusu, MD, Behnoosh Rahavard, MD, Mohamed Fayed, MD, Patrick Forrest, MD, Sarah Money, MD, Samvid Dwivedi, MD, Lara Zador, MD, Roger Haddad, Do, Daanish Khaja, MD, Nabil Sibai, MD, and Rohit Aiyer, MD.

BACKGROUND: Lumbar medial branch blocks (MBB) are some of the most commonly performed pain procedures in the United States. Diagnostic MBBs are performed to confirm if the generator of low back pain is the facet joint. However, with diagnostic injections, false positive blocks may occur.

OBJECTIVES:  Our prospective observational study aims to investigate the effects of midazolam sedation on patients’ perceived intensity of pain relief following lumbar MBB.

STUDY DESIGN: This is a single-center multi-site prospective observational study registered on (NCT04453449).

SETTING: The study was approved by the Henry Ford Health System Institutional Review Board (IRB) in June 2020 (IRB# 14010) and registered on in July 2020 (NCT04453449). This manuscript adheres to the applicable EQUATOR STROBE guidelines for an observational cohort study.

METHODS: Patients that underwent MBB without sedation were compared to sedated patients. Patients were asked to complete the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) at baseline, one day after their diagnostic blocks, as well as 4 weeks and 8 weeks after their lumbar radiofrequency ablation (RFA). The primary outcome is the difference between baseline NRS pain scores and the lowest reported score in the 8 hours following MBB. For patients who proceed to RFA, the frequency of false positive blocks was evaluated. A patient was considered to have a false positive block when they failed to achieve 50% pain relief from RFA after 2 successful sequential MBBs.

RESULTS: There was no significant difference in the NRS pain score change between the sedated and non-sedated groups for diagnostic block one (P = 0.167) and diagnostic block 2 (P = 0.6145). There was no significant difference of false positive rates between non-sedation and sedation patients at 4-weeks post-RFA (P = 0.7178) and at 8-weeks post-RFA (P = 1.000).

LIMITATIONS: Some of the limitations of this study include its nonrandomized design, patient self-reported pain scores, as well as the small variability in the injection technique of proceduralists and in the anatomical location of the injection site.

CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that midazolam did not change patients’ perceived intensity of pain following MBB, as well as false positive rates after RFA. Larger studies are required to draw definitive conclusions.

KEY WORDS: Medial branch blocks, diagnostic, radiofrequency ablation, back pain, chronic pain, facet joint, medial branch ablation