The influence of adjunctive caudal epidural steroid injection on the therapeutic effect of transforaminal epidural steroid injection
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Background: Epidural steroid injection is widely used to treat the short and long-term symptoms of low back and radicular pain. To the best of our knowledge, the influence of transforaminal epidural steroid injection (TFSI) combined with caudal epidural steroid injection (CESI) on pain intensity, patient satisfaction, and quality of life in lumbar radiculopathy has not been examined. Aim: To evaluate the short and long-term efficacy of TFSI, and TFSI combined with CESI (TFSI + CESI) in patients with lumbar radiculopathy. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively examined the records of 104 patients with lumbar radicular pain and L4/5 and/or L5/S1 intervertebral disc disease who underwent TFSI or TFSI + CESI. We compared the pain intensity using a Visual Numeric Scale (VNS), North American Spine Society (NASS) pain satisfaction index, and EuroQol five dimensions (EQ-5D) quality of life scores before intervention, and after 1, 6 and 12 months. Results: In the TFSI group, the mean pre-treatment VNS score was 9.2, which improved to 4.9 after 1 month and to 7.2 after 12 months. In the TFSI + CESI group, the mean pre-treatment VNS score was 9.4, which improved to 2.6 and 4.6 after 1 and 12 months, respectively. Improvement in the VNS scores was significantly higher in the TFSI + CESI group (P < 0.0001 for each). Mean EQ-5D quality of life index in the TFSI group improved from 0.59 in the pre-treatment phase to 0.76 after 12 months of intervention, while it improved from 0.62 in the pre-treatment phase to 0.84 at 12 months of intervention in the TFSI + CESI group. The EQ-5D scores were significantly better in the TFSI + CESI group at 1, 6, and 12 months after the procedure (P = 0.004, 0.036, and 0.042, for 1, 6, and 12 months, respectively). The NASS scores were significantly better in the TFSI + CESI group at 6 and 12 months after the intervention (P = 0.025 and 0.001 for 6 months and 12 months, respectively). Conclusion: In patients with lower lumbar radiculopathy, a combined TFSI + CESI technique offers superior short and long-term pain relief, quality of life, and long-term patient satisfaction, than when TFSI is performed alone.