The aim of this multicenter randomized interventional prospective study was to compare the ultrasound (US)-guided lumbar medial branch block (LMBB) with the fluoroscopy (FS)-guided LMBB in terms of analgesic efficacy and disability in the setting of the treatment of pain arising from the lumbar facet joints (LFJ).
Fifty adults with a “LFJ” syndrome were randomized into two groups: in group FS, fluoroscopic-guidance was used to block the medial branch at three lumbar levels (L3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1); in group US, same blocks were performed under ultrasound. Needle transverse approach was used with both techniques. Effects of these procedures were assessed with a Visual Analogue Pain Scale (VAPS), the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and the Duke’s Activity Status Index (DASI) scale, before the treatment, 1 week and 1 month after. Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) score was also collected before the procedure. Analysis of variance, one (for non-inferiority) and two-sided Mann-Whitney tests and Chi-square tests were performed.
LMBB under US-guidance was not inferior to FS-guidance (P = 0.047) in terms of VAPS, ODI and DASI at 1 week and 1 month. Duration of techniques and HADS were similar between groups (=0.34; p = 0.59).
The medial lumbar bundle branch block under ultrasound-guidance is not inferior to the fluoroscopy-guidance procedure in effectively alleviating pain arising from the facet joints. Considering that this ultrasound technique has the benefit of an irradiation-free, real-time procedure, it can be considered as an effective alternative to the fluoroscopy-guided technique.

© 2023. The Author(s).