Imaging findings predicting the outcome of cervical facet joint blocks

Eur Radiol. 2007 Apr;17(4):959-64. doi: 10.1007/s00330-006-0379-y. Epub 2006 Oct 3.


To determine which cross-sectional imaging findings predict the short-term outcome of cervical facet joint blocks (FJB) and to evaluate the effect of combined intra-/periarticular versus periarticular injection on pain. Fifty facet joints in 37 patients were included in the study. Single, unilateral FJBs in 24 patients, and bilateral single level FJBs in 13 patients were performed, respectively. In all patients, pain relief was assessed using a visual analogue scale. All computed tomography (CT) examinations were blindly reviewed by two radiologists. Osteoarthritis was rated using the Kellgren classification. The presence of combined intra-/periarticular vs. sole periarticular injection of contrast was evaluated. Kellgren Grades 0 (n=23), 1 (n=5), 2 (n=3), 3 (n=9), and 4 (n=10) were found. Mean pain relief after injection was 35% (range: 0-100%). 40% of all injections were combined intra-/periarticular. There was neither a statistically significant difference between pain relief and combined intra-/periarticular versus sole periarticular injection (p=0.64) nor the grade of osteoarthritis (p=0.49). Pain relief after cervical FJBs does not correlate with morphologic alterations seen on CT. Periarticular FJBs are not less successful than combined intra-/periarticular FJBs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular*
  • Male
  • Mepivacaine / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / classification
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / methods
  • Zygapophyseal Joint* / drug effects


  • Mepivacaine