Epidural steroid injections: Update on efficacy, safety, and newer medications for injection

N. Kozlov, H. T. Benzon*, K. Malik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The best evidence for epidural injection appears to be in the setting of radicular pain with epidural steroid and non-steroid injections more efficacious than non-epidural injections. Studies showed the efficacy of non-particulate steroid to approach the efficacy of particulate steroid and very limited comparisons demonstrated no significant difference between epidural steroid and epidural non-steroid (local anesthetic) injection. Preliminary studies evaluating epidural injection of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs such etanercept and tocilizumab showed conflicting results and had significant limitations. Randomized studies support better efficacy of transforaminal injection due to greater incidence of ventral epidural spread of injectate when compared to interlaminar injection. Thus, the transforaminal approach is recommended when unilateral radicular pain is limited to one nerve root. However, the transforaminal approach is associated with greater incidence of central nervous system injury, including paraplegia, attributed to embolization of the particulate steroid. Recent studies showed that non-particulate steroids potentially last as long as particulate steroids. Therefore non-particulate steroid should be used in initial transforaminal epidural injection. Future studies should look into the role of adjunct diagnostic aids, including digital subtraction angiography, in detecting intravascular injection and the ideal site of needle placement, whether it is the safe triangle or the triangle of Kambin. Finally, the role of epidural disease -modifying antirheumatic drugs in the management of back pain needs to be better elucidated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-909
Number of pages9
JournalMinerva Anestesiologica
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Complications
  • Epidural
  • Epidural
  • Injections
  • Injections
  • Steroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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