1. Department of Dental Anesthesiology, Seoul National University Dental Hospital, Seoul, Korea;
2. Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Objective: A cervical epidural steroid injection is one of the most commonly performed interventions to manage chronic neck pain and cervical radiculopathy. Despite its many severe complications, cervical transforaminal epidural steroid injection (CTFESI) is a clinically necessary modality for managing neck pain and cervical radiculopathy. We aimed in this study to find a safer optimal needle entry angle to decrease the chance of an accidental vertebral artery (VA) puncture even with a proper needle entry angle and to visualize the target of the needle tip.
Methods: This retrospective study included 312 patients with neck pain or cervical radiculopathy who had undergone magnetic resonance imaging scans for diagnosis and treatment. The first line was drawn from the midpoint of the two articular pillars and passed through the exact midline of the spinous process. The second line was drawn parallel to the ventral lamina line (conventional transforaminal approach line, CTAL). The third line was drawn parallel to the ventral margin at the midpoint of the superior articular process's ventral border (new transforaminal approach line, NTAL). The angle of intersection between the midline and CTAL versus with NTAL were measured from both sides (right and left) at C5-6, C6-7, and C7-T1 levels. Also, the distance of CTAL and NTAL from VA were measured from both sides at each level. We examined whether the CTAL and NTAL would penetrate the ipsilateral VA, internal carotid artery (ICA), and internal jugular vein (IJV).
Results: There were significant differences between CTAL and NTAL angles at all levels (P < 0.001). There were significant differences between the distance of CTAL and NTAL from VA at all levels (P < 0.001). There were also significant differences between the observed frequency of CTAL and NTAL that would penetrate the major ipsilateral vessel (VA, ICA, and IJV) on all levels and sides (P < 0.001~0.030).
Conclusion: The angle of NTAL (approximately 70°) is safer than the angle of CTAL (approximately 50°) when considering vascular injuries to vessels, such as the VA, ICA, and IJV.
Keywords: cervical radiculopathy, internal carotid artery, internal jugular vein, needle entry angle, transforaminal epidural steroid injection, vertebral artery.