Background: There are no consensus and guidelines on the optimal interval of repeat epidural steroid injections (ESI) for patients with lumbar herniated intervertebral disc (HIVD) who respond to initial ESI. Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of ESI in patients with HIVD under a “wait-and-see” policy, i.e. as-needed injections not on a predetermined schedule. Material and Methods: A total of 592 patients with lumbar HIVD received spine injections between January and December 2017. After excluding patients with excellent (no pain) or poor (>70% residual symptoms) response in the two- or three-week pain assessment, the data of 141 responders were analyzed (60 men, 73 women; age = 50.55±17.25 years). We divided patients into wait-and-see (n=124) and early repeat-ESI (n=17) groups, who received repeat ESIs within three weeks. Evaluations of characteristics and outcomes were performed with the chi-square test or independent Student’s t-test. Results: Six patients (4.8%) in the wait-and-see group and 1 (5.9%) in the early repeat-ESI group underwent operation within one year (P=0.85). A mean of 1.52±0.82 ESIs was performed in the wait-and-see and a mean of 2.29±0.47 ESIs in the early repeat-ESI group over one year (P<0.001). The time interval between the first and second ESIs was longer in the wait-and-see group than in the early repeat-ESI group (97.15 vs. 15.47 days, P<0.001). Seventy-eight patients (62.9%) in the wait-and-see group could control their pain with a single ESI. Conclusion: A “wait-and-see” policy could be an effective pain management option for patients with lumbar HIVD who respond to initial ESI.
- epidural steroid injection
- herniated intervertebral disc
- lumbar spine
- repeat injection