Comparison of ultrasonography- and fluoroscopy-guided facet joint block in the lumbar spine

Asian Spine J. 2010 Jun;4(1):15-22. doi: 10.4184/asj.2010.4.1.15. Epub 2010 Apr 26.


Study design: Retrospective study.

Purpose: Facet joint block is performed for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes and generally carried out under computerd tomography (CT) or radiologic fluoroscopy guidance. Ultrasonography-guided facet block has recently been attempted. So, we compared the results of ultrasonography-guided facet joint block with the results of fluoroscopy-guided facet joint block.

Overview of literature: Because fluoroscopic or CT guided facet joint block has been reported side effects, we performed spinal facet block using a fluoroscopy-guided method.

Methods: We selected 133 patients who had lumbar pain or referred pain. They were diagnosed as having spinal stenosis and hospitalized from January 2008 to June 2008. As the subjects, we selected 105 patients who had been follow-up for more than 6 months and carried out a prospective study. Twenty six subjects were male and 25 were female in the fluoroscopy group (group 1) and their mean age was 56.1 years (range, 45 to 79 years). Twenty one were male and 33 were female in the ultrasonography-guided group (group 2). Their mean age was 58.3 years (range, 47 to 83 years). We studied the average time of the procedures, complications, the difference of the therapeutic cost between the two groups. We also evaluated the visual analogue scale (VAS) score and the Oswestry disability index.

Results: The procedure in group 2 averaged 4 minutes and 25 seconds, and in group 1, 4 minutes and 7 seconds. The coast was an average of 38,000 won in group 2 and 25,000 won in group 1. The VAS score was improved from an average of 7.5 (range, 5 to 9) to 2.8 (range, 2 to 6) in group 2 and from 7.8 (range, 4 to 10) to 2.7 (range, 2 to 5) in group 1. The Oswestry disability index was improved from an average of 32.3 (range, 28 to 41) to 23.5 (range, 17 to 26) in group 2 and from 34.2 (range, 29 to 43) to 24.8 (range, 18 to 28) in group 1. As for complications, worsening of lumbar pain, paresthesia, headache and allergic reaction were detected in 5 cases of group 2 and in 3 of group 1. Those symptoms were improved within several hours. One case of superficial infection that developed in group 2 was improved within several days.

Conclusions: We should consider that ultrasonography-guided facet joint block is a minimal invasive procedure that is easily carried out without radiation exposure.

Keywords: Facet joint block; Lumbar pain; Ultrasonography.