Epidural Steroid Injection
An epidural is an injection that delivers steroids directly into the epidural space in the spine. The epidura (or epidural space) lies close to the spinal cord and is an area filled with fat cells and blood vessels. It is located just outside the dural sac. The dural sac surrounds the nerve roots and cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that the nerve roots are bathed in). Its position close to the spinal cord makes it a convenient place to inject an anti-inflammatory medication, usually a steroid. Steroids (corticosteroids) have been shown to reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of substances that cause inflammation.
The epidural steroid injection can be highly effective because it delivers the medication directly to the site of inflammation. Careful imaging of the epidura, through the use of X-ray fluoroscopy, makes the placement of the injection more accurate. Franklin Moser, MD, Director of Neuroradiology, heads our team of imaging physicians, nurses and technologists who specialize in these procedures.
How is An Epidural Steroid Injection Performed?
An epidural steroid injection usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes. The patient lies flat on an x-ray table on their abdomen. Prior to the epidural injection, the skin is numbed with a local anesthetic. Using fluoroscopy (live x-ray) for guidance, the physician directs a needle toward the epidural space. Once the needle is in the exact position, the epidural steroid solution is injected. Following the injection, the patient is usually monitored for 15 to 20 minutes before being discharged to go home.
Patients are usually asked to rest on the day of the epidural steroid injection. Normal activities (those that were done the week prior to the epidural injection)may typically be resumed the following day.