Lumbar facet joint arthrography with the posterior approach

Radiographics. 1999 Jan-Feb;19(1):93-104. doi: 10.1148/radiographics.19.1.g99ja0193.


Lumbar facet joint (LFJ) arthrography with intraarticular injections of long-acting steroids and local anesthetics is routinely used for therapeutic purposes in selected patients for relief of low back pain. The procedure may also be used for diagnostic reasons to establish the source of such pain. However, because direct access to the LFJ space is not always possible owing to degenerative changes such as osteophytes, another posterior approach has been proposed for LFJ arthrography. With the patient in the prone position, a spinal needle is inserted vertically into the inferior recess of an LFJ with fluoroscopic guidance and the patient under local anesthesia. To facilitate puncture, cushions are placed under the patient's abdomen to flatten normal lumbar lordosis, which enlarges the inferior recess of the LFJ. Use of cushions also results in a decrease in tissue thickness in the patient, thereby improving image quality and decreasing radiation exposure. LFJ arthrography can demonstrate the causative role of facet disease in abnormalities responsible for low back pain or sciatica and can be performed easily and rapidly with this direct posterior approach.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage
  • Arthrography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Low Back Pain / drug therapy
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Prone Position
  • Steroids / administration & dosage


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Steroids