Spine Injectables: What Is the Safest Cocktail?

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2016 Sep;207(3):526-33. doi: 10.2214/AJR.16.16379. Epub 2016 Jun 24.


Objective: Spinal injections are common pain management procedures using corticosteroids and local anesthetics. Most corticosteroid preparations are particulate suspensions, such as methylprednisolone acetate and triamcinolone acetonide. In the cervical spine, particulate corticosteroids have been linked to catastrophic complications, including blindness, paralysis, and death. Serious neurologic injuries have also been reported at the thoracic, lumbar, and sacral levels.

Conclusion: Nonparticulate preparations, such as dexamethasone, are safer but have shorter-lived antiinflammatory effects. Local anesthetics are often mixed with corticosteroids in pain management procedures. Although everyday risks are minimal, injection techniques should take into account neural and cardiac toxicities. In this article, we discuss the potential for serious adverse events associated with injected medications. We review the current literature to make conclusions on medication combinations that balance safety and efficacy.

Keywords: corticosteroids; crystals; epidural; infarction; injection; local anesthetic; safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects
  • Anesthetics, Local / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Humans
  • Injections, Spinal / adverse effects
  • Injections, Spinal / methods*
  • Pain Management*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Drug Combinations