Radiation dose of fluoroscopy-guided versus ultralow-dose CT-fluoroscopy-guided lumbar spine epidural steroid injections

Skeletal Radiol. 2022 May;51(5):1055-1062. doi: 10.1007/s00256-021-03920-7. Epub 2021 Oct 6.


Objective: Compare radiation dose of lumbar spine epidural steroid injections (ESIs) performed under fluoroscopy guidance and ultralow-dose CT-fluoroscopy guidance.

Materials and methods: Retrospective review of consecutive lumbar ESIs performed using fluoroscopy, between May 2017 and April 2019, and using ultralow-dose CT-fluoroscopy, between August 2019 and February 2021, was performed. Ultralow-dose CT-fluoroscopy technique omits a planning CT scan, utilizes CT-fluoroscopy, and minimizes radiation dose parameters. Patient characteristics (age, sex, height, weight, body mass index (BMI)), procedural characteristics (anatomic level, type of ESI, procedure time, pain reduction, complications, trainee participation), and radiation dose were compared. Chi-square tests and two-sample t-tests were performed for statistical analysis.

Results: One hundred and forty-seven patients (mean age 55.8 ± 16.7; 85 women) underwent ESIs using fluoroscopy. Sixty-six patients (mean age 60.9 ± 16.7; 33 women) underwent ESIs using ultralow-dose CT-fluoroscopy. The effective dose for the fluoroscopy group was 0.30 mSv ± 0.34, compared to 0.15 mSV ± 0.11 for ultralow-dose CT-fluoroscopy (p < 0.001). The average age in the CT-fluoroscopy group was older (p = 0.04), and there was more trainee participation in the fluoroscopy group (p < 0.001); otherwise there was no statistically significant difference in patient or procedural characteristics between the conventional fluoroscopy group and the ultralow-dose CT-fluoroscopy group. There was no statistically significant difference in immediate post-procedure pain reduction between the groups (p = 0.16). Four intrathecal injections occurred only in the fluoroscopy group, though this difference was not significant (p = 0.18).

Conclusion: Ultralow-dose CT-fluoroscopy technique for image-guided lumbar spine ESIs can lower radiation dose compared to fluoroscopy-guided technique.

Keywords: CT-fluoroscopy; Epidural steroid injection (ESI); Fluoroscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fluoroscopy / methods
  • Humans
  • Injections, Epidural / methods
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiography, Interventional* / methods
  • Steroids
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / methods


  • Steroids