Evaluation of anxiety in procedure-naive patients during cervical and lumbar epidural steroid injection procedures

David R. Walega, Mark C. Kendall*, Geeta Nagpal, Gildasio S. De Oliveira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives The lack of studies that identify patient and procedural risk factors for increased levels of anxiety during spine injections represents a major barrier to the development of safe tailored sedation practices. We measured and compared anxiety in procedure-naive patients undergoing a cervical or lumbar interlaminar epidural steroid injection to identify predictors of patient movement and vasovagal responses in the periprocedural period. Methods This prospective observational cohort study was conducted with injection-naive patients presenting for a routine cervical or lumbar epidural steroid injection. The primary outcome measure was the Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) score. Participants also reported anxiety using the Numeric Rating Scale in the periprocedural period. The Wilcoxon rank sum test was used to compare STAI scores; Numeric Rating Scale values were compared using Friedman test. Post hoc tests were corrected for 12 comparisons using the Bonferroni method. Results We found no group differences in age, gender, marital status, Visual Analog Scale pain score, duration of pain symptoms, or utilization of health care resources for pain symptom management. The mean STAI score was 43 ± 8 in the cervical group (n = 140) and 44 ± 9 in the lumbar group (n = 140) (P = 0.35), a low level of anxiety. There were no between-group differences in anxiety at any point during the periprocedural period. A vasovagal response was identified in 10% of the cervical group and in 3% of the lumbar group (P = 0.04). Conclusions No group differences in anxiety were seen between cervical and lumbar groups. Anxiety levels were not associated with patient movement or vasovagal symptoms. Our results suggest that the practice of routine prevention or treatment of injection-related anxiety in the procedure-naive general population with a duration of pain less than 6 months and without a history of an anxiety disorder should be reevaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-261
Number of pages7
JournalRegional anesthesia and pain medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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