Complications of epidural neuroplasty: A retrospective evaluation

Talu G., Erdine S.

NEUROMODULATION, vol.6, no.4, pp.237-247, 2003 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 6 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Doi Number: 10.1046/j.1525-1403.2003.03031.x
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.237-247


Percutaneous epidural neuroplasty (lysis of epidural adhesions, epidural application of hypertonic saline) is an interventional technique for the management of pain due to spinal disorders. Epidural neuroplasty is found to be effective in removing fibrous tissue occurring in the epidural space for various reasons, however, the procedure may be prone to serious complications. We present here our retrospectively collected complications and precautions of complications of epidural neuroplasty in 250 patients. Neuroplasty, as per the technique of Racz et al., was only considered in patients suffering from low back and cervical pain after conservative treatments had been tried and had failed. Possible known complications include bending of the tip of the introducer needle, shearing/tearing of the catheter, misplacement of the catheter, inadvertent blockage of the catheter or catheter tip, migration of the catheter, hypotension, respiratory depression, urinary and/or fecal incontinence, urinary hesitancy, sexual dysfunction, paresthesia, epidural abscess, and meningitis. We found the following complications in our series: the tips of the introducer needle were bent in 12 patients; catheter sheaths were torn during withdrawal through the needle in three patients; 39 patients had bleeding or aspiration of blood from the epidural space; eight patients had their catheters migrate into an epidural vein; one patient's catheter migrated into the prevertebral space during the procedure; there were dural punctures in 11 patients; there were catheter blockages in six patients during consecutive applications of neuroplasty; hypotension was seen during and after drug injections in 12 patients, there was hypotension in one patient; three patients had migration and penetration of their catheters into the dura after placement and in consecutive days; 25 patients experienced numbness in dermatomal areas of the upper and lower extremities depending the level of the procedure; and there were eight infections at the entry site of the catheter, three epidural abscesses, and two patients with meningitis. In order to prevent complications such as those seen, epidural neuroplasty procedures must be performed in well-equipped centers by experienced hands.