Radiation dose and procedure time for 994 CT-guided spine pain control procedures

Matthew S. Lazarus, Rebecca B. Forman, Allan L. Brook, Todd S. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Image guidance for spine pain control procedures, including epidural steroid injection, nerve root block, and facet block, can be performed with either computed tomography (CT) or conventional fluoroscopy. CT has the advantage of improved anatomic localization and use of air for contrast; however, there are concerns that CT leads to higher radiation dose and longer procedure time. Objective: To evaluate procedure time and radiation dose for multiple types of spine pain control procedures performed under CT guidance. Study Design: Retrospective evaluation. Setting: Department of radiology in single academic medical center. Methods: Institutional review board approval was obtained. We reviewed CT-guided spine procedures performed over a 12-month period from January 2012 to December 2012. Procedure type, procedure time, and dose-length product were recorded. Patient age and gender were recorded for each case; additionally, demographic and medical history data were obtained for a sub-group of patients. Results: Nine hundred ninety-four studies (performed in 699 patients) were reviewed, including 585 epidural steroid injections, 228 nerve root blocks, and 90 facet blocks. For all studies, procedure time averaged 7:34 ± 5:05, and dose-length product averaged 75 mGy·cm ± 61. Additional medical history (available for 483 patients) revealed high rate of obesity (body mass index [BMI] = 30 ± 6.8, with 76% of patients overweight [BMI > 25] and 42% obese [BMI > 30]), and frequent medical comorbidities (including hypertension [n = 179], diabetes [n = 101], renal failure [n = 30], and heart failure [n = 17]). Limitations: This study was performed retrospectively, and limited to a single institution. Conclusion: These findings add to the growing evidence that CT guidance is a safe and effective technique for epidural steroid injection. These results further demonstrate that other spine intervention procedures, including nerve root block and facet block, can also be performed under CT guidance with short procedure time and reasonable levels of radiation exposure. This approach can be effectively used in a patient population with a high rate of obesity and medical comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E585-E592
JournalPain physician
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • CT-guidance
  • Epidural steroid injection
  • Facet block
  • Nerve root block
  • Radiation dose
  • Spine intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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