Although epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are a common treatment for chronic pain conditions, it is not clear whether there is consensus on their technical aspects. The current literature suggests that variations in technical aspects may affect ESI outcomes. The goal of the survey was to help establish a standard frame of reference for the performance of ESIs. We analyzed survey results from 68 academic anesthesia programs and 28 private practices in the United States. The main finding in this survey is that there is no clear-cut consensus as to the ideal method to perform ESI. There is a wide variation among individual practices in almost every technical aspect of ESI. Private practices use significantly more fluoroscopy than academic centers. The large difference was found in the cervical region where 73% of private practices and only 39% of academic institutions polled perform the ESIs with fluoroscopic guidance (P = 0.005). A similar discrepancy was found in approaches to the epidural space after laminectomy where 61% of private practices, but only 15% of academic centers, use the transforaminal approach. The study results indicate that there is no consensus, and that there is a wide variation in current practices.
Implications: A national survey of practices performing epidural steroid injections was conducted. The purpose was to establish whether consensus exists on technical aspects of this procedure. The study results indicate that there is no consensus, and that there is a wide variation in current practices.