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Radiation dose reduction in CT-guided periradicular injections in lumbar spine: Feasibility of a new institutional protocol for improved patient safety

DOI: 10.1186/1754-9493-6-19

Keywords: CT-Guided spinal injections , Periradicular injection , Computed tomography , Lumbar spine , Low dose protocol

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Background Image guided spinal injections are successfully used in the management of low back pain and sciatica. The main benefit of CT-guided injections is the safe, fast and precise needle placement, but the radiation exposure remains a serious concern. The purpose of the study was to test a new institutional low-dose protocol for CT-guided periradicular injections in lumbar spine to reduce radiation exposure while increasing accuracy and safety for the patients. Methods We performed a retrospective analysis of a prospective database during a 4-month period (Oct-Dec 2011) at a German University hospital using a newly established low-dose-CT-protocol for periradicular injections in patients suffering from lumbar disc herniation and nerve root entrapment. Inclusion criteria were acute or chronic nerve root irritation due to lumbar disc hernia, age over 18, compliance and informed consent. Excluded were patients suffering from severe obesity (BMI > 30), coagulopathy, allergy to injected substances, infection and non-compliant patients. Outcome parameters consisted of the measured dose length product (mGycm2), the amount of scans, age, gender, BMI and the peri-interventional complications. The results were compared to 50 patients, treated in the standard-interventional CT-protocol for spinal injections, performed in June-Oct 2011, who met the above mentioned inclusion criteria. Results A total amount of 100 patients were enrolled in the study. A significant radiation dose reduction (average 85.31%) was achieved using the institutional low-dose protocol compared to standard intervention mode in CT-guided periradicular injections in lumbar spine. Using the low-dose protocol did not increase the complications rate in the analyzed cohort. Conclusions Low-dose-CT-protocols for lumbar perineural injections significantly reduce the exposure to radiation of non-obese patients without an increase of complications. This increases long-time patient safety of stochastic radiation effects.


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