X-ray technology being used for precise spinal injections

X-ray technology being used for precise spinal injections

Forget scary needles and general location injections for pain, x-ray technology is now being combined with spinal injections for pinpointed relief.

For Lynn Hohensee, golfing is a pretty accurate gauge of whether or not his back pain is under control. When lower back pain had his clubs collecting dust, he knew it was time to see a doctor.  "Anything that required some significant movement with the back, probably gave me a wake up call with some noticeable discomfort," he said.

Hohensee had his first spinal injections for back pain three years ago. While they worked, it was a needle-filled experience he was not looking forward to undergoing again.

That is where image-guided injections come in - something that Dr. Richard Martinez with Lake Charles Memorial's Radiology Department, says pinpoints the area of injection.  "Using imaging equipment, we'll localize or define the area of the spine where we target the injection," he said.

This five to ten minute procedure uses local anesthesia and an epidural needle.  "We look for openings in the spine or in the spinal column to allow placement of a needle in those locations," said Dr. Martinez, "we position the needle in that area and we inject a small amount of x-ray dye to confirm that we're in the place that we've targeted."

Hohensee describes the discomfort like a bad mosquito bite. He was golfing again within three days and ready to tackle a growing list at home.  "I'm picking up more honey-do list duties around the house, around the yard, that were probably not available early on...to a limited extent!" said Hohensee.

That is something that he and his wife are happy about!

Dr. Martinez says 90 percent of the spinal injection patients get some relief, with about 85 percent saying they had a significant improvement in pain. The relief can last anywhere from a few months to a few years.

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