Intra-articular facet joint steroid injection–related adverse events encountered during 11,980 procedures

Bo Ram Kim, Joon Woo Lee, Eugene Lee, Yusuhn Kang, Joong Mo Ahn, Heung Sik Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: To analyze the incidence and characteristics of intra-articular facet joint injection (FJI)–related adverse events requiring hospitalization and emergency room visits. Methods: From January 2007 to December 2017, a total of 11,980 FJI procedures in 6066 patients (mean age 66.8 years, range 15–97 years, M:F = 2004:4062) were performed in our department. Of these, we retrospectively reviewed 489 cases in 432 patients who were hospitalized or visited the emergency room within a month of FJI. FJI-related adverse events were classified as procedure-related complications, drug-related systemic events, or uncertain etiology events, on the basis of consensus of two spine radiologists. This is a descriptive study without statistical analysis. Results: There were 101 FJI-related adverse event cases in 99 patients (mean age 71.8 years, range 39–97 years, M:F = 39:60). The overall incidence of FJI-related adverse events was 0.84% (101/11,980) per case and 1.63% (99/6066) per patient. The incidence of procedure-related complications and drug-related systemic adverse events was 0.07% (8/11,980) and 0.15% (18/11,980), respectively; the rate of uncertain etiology events was 0.63% (75/11,980). All eight procedure-related complication cases involved major complications. There are seven cases of infectious spondylitis and one was progression of systemic aspergillosis to the spine. One patient died of an uncontrolled infection with infective endocarditis, and two patients experienced partial recovery with neurological sequelae. Conclusions: The overall incidence of FJI-related adverse events is low, and procedure-related major complications are rare without dural puncture or epidural hematoma. Nevertheless, infection can occur, resulting in serious outcomes. Key Points: • The incidence of FJI-related adverse events requiring hospitalization or ER visit was 0.84%. • The incidence of major procedure-related complications was 0.07%. • All major complications were associated with infection and there were no cases of epidural hematoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1507-1516
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020



  • Infection
  • Pain management
  • Spine
  • Spondylitis
  • Zygapophyseal joint

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