Facet Joint Injection.
The facet joints are sliding joints at the back of the spine which allow for mobility. Like any joint, then may become arthritic and therefore cause back pain.
A facet joint injection given under CT guidance is a pain management procedure that may assist in stopping pain stemming from an arthritic or inflamed facet joint by delivering anti-inflammatory medication into the affected area.
We also strongly recommend that you bring a responsible person to drive you home afterwards.
most of these are minor (1-2%), however can be serious (<0.1%) requiring hospital admission, intravenous antibiotics and surgery.
this is fortunately also rare and slightly common in patients with bleeding disorders and on “blood thinning” medication. Blood thinning medications that you are currently taking should be ceased (Aspirin and Warfarin for 5 days, Plavix for 7 days and Iscover for 8 days).
As these medications constantly evolve with advances in medicine, the times to cease these medications may vary with newer medications. Should you be on different medications, please contact us or the doctor who prescribed the medication for further advice.
Facet Joint Injection
You will be asked to wear a gown with the selected area of the spine exposed. Facet joint injections procedures are completed with you either lying face down or on your side, in a CT scanner. We will ensure that you are as comfortable as possible.
A series of planning images are performed, with the area of needle entry planned on the computer terminal and then marked on your skin. The radiologist will then clean your skin with an antiseptic wash and inject local anaesthetic into the injection site. This results in a stinging sensation which is temporary until the skin becomes numb, usually taking 10 seconds.
A fine needle is then passed through the skin and tissues, constantly manipulated under CT guidance until it enters the facet joint. Injecting a mixture of cortisone and local anaesthetic into the facet joint decreases inflammation and therefore the cause of your pain. Some discomfort will be felt for a short time until the local anaesthetic numbs the area.
The effects of the treatment vary and it is difficult to predict the duration of pain relief until the procedure is performed. In some people, pain is relieved for months, others years and still for others it produces no relief at all. In the case of the latter, your doctor may recommend an alternative treatment, which may include radiofrequency ablation.
Following your procedure & recovery
At most, you will feel some minor discomfort in the back. As local anaesthetic has been injected into the spine most patients will be pain free.
Patients are able to walk freely after the procedure and are observed in the clinic for 10 minutes. Following this, you may be discharged if you are feeling well. You should not drive for the rest of the day. The following day you may return to work and gradually increase your activities.
One of Melbourne Radiology Clinic’s specialist radiologists, a medical doctor specialising in the interpretation of medical images for the purposes of providing a diagnosis, will then review the images and provide a formal written report. If medically urgent, or you have an appointment immediately after the scan to be seen by your doctor or health care provider, Melbourne Radiology Clinic will have your results ready without delay. Otherwise, the report will be received by your doctor or health care provider within the next 24 hours.
Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor or health care provider to discuss your results.
Your referring doctor or health care provider is the most appropriate person to explain to you the results of the scans and for this reason, we do not release the results directly to you.
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