An epidural injection is used to deliver medication into the epidural space located between the bony outer margins of the spine and the nerves and their coverings.

Interventional radiology epidural injection

What is an epidural injection?

An epidural injection is used to deliver medication into the epidural space located between the bony outer margins of the spine and the nerves and their coverings. Usually a steroid and sometimes a mixture of local anaesthetic and steroid will be injected. 

Steroids reduce inflammation. By injecting directly into the epidural space, the medication moves throughout the epidural space, coating the nerve roots as they exit the spine thereby reducing discomfort.

What should I expect during the procedure?

Your doctor will discuss the procedure with you and answer any question you have before proceeding. You will be asked to lie on your side or on your stomach, and the appropriate injection site will be identified using a type of X-ray called fluoroscopy.  

After sterilizing and numbing your skin the doctor will administer the injection, which takes a couple of minutes. You may experience some mild discomfort during the injection, but this usually resolves once the injection is finished. The needle is then removed and a small dressing is applied to the site.  

It is possible to feel numbness or heaviness in your leg or arms depending on the injection site. This is normal and should subside completely in a matter of hours.  

After a short observation period, you will be allowed to go home. The entire procedure usually takes approximately half an hour, though occasionally more time is required.

What to expect after the epidural injection?

After your injection you should feel the same or better for the first 12 hours. The local anaesthetic will then wear off and you may experience a return of your pain.

You should start feeling some pain relief two to three days following the injection. This may last for a matter of days, weeks and occasionally months. It can take up to 10-14 days to take effect.

What should I do on the day of my appointment?

  • You can eat and drink as normal.  
  • Take all your tablets as normal unless instructed. Bring any inhalers with you.
  • After you check in at main radiology reception, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • You will be met by a doctor and asked to sign a consent form.
  • You may ask any questions and discuss any issues you may have.

Known risks and side effects associated with epidural injection

Due to the procedure:

  • Infection (rare)
  • Bleeding (from the injection site) rare
  • Altered sensation below the level of the injection
  • Headache – occurs infrequently
  • More discomfort from the first few days after the injection
  • Bruising to the injection site
  • Altered motor function (reduced power) below the level of the injection
  • Allergy to the injected medication
  • Paralysis – very rare

Due to the injected steroid:

  • Facial flushing for a few days
  • Temporary increase in sugar levels (diabetics)

Important information

Please inform us on the number above if you are taking any of following tablets before attending, as some of these may need to be stopped some days before the procedure.

  • Antibiotics
  • Aspirin
  • Plavix
  • Warfarin
  • Dabigatran

Information for females

This examination should be performed within the first ten days of your menstrual cycle.  If you think you might be pregnant, contact the Interventional Radiology Department.

You must not drive home or go home via public transport. Please arrange for someone to collect you from the Radiology Department.