Nerve Root Block

Please note, this page is printable by selecting the normal print options on your computer.

This information sheet will explain the examination you are going to have. It is also very important that you follow the instructions from your hospital Consultant.

What is the purpose of the nerve root block?
The purpose of this procedure is to try and find the source of your symptoms and give temporary relief. Sometimes relief can last for a few months, but there is no guarantee as to the length of time you will feel the benefit for.

Will I need to stay in hospital?
A nerve root block is usually performed on an outpatient basis, depending on your medical condition and how you recover.

Do I need to do anything before the exam?
You may eat and drink normally and continue to take any essential medication. If you are a diabetic you will be advised about your medication by the medical team referring you.

What will happen in x-ray and who will be present during the procedure?
When you arrive you will be greeted by the staff that work in the department, and given the option of changing into a gown. They will check your details and ask you if you are allergic to anything. You will be asked to lay on to an x-ray table. A Radiologist (a doctor who specialises in x-rays) will carry out the procedure assisted by an x-ray nurse and radiographers.

Will I feel anything during the procedure?
The radiologist will numb the area at the site of the procedure with some local anaesthetic. When this is done you will feel a sharp pain, but only temporarily, then the area will become numb.

What will the radiologist do next?
The radiologist will perform a series of x-rays over the site where the procedure will be performed. They will inject the anaesthetic and wait for your skin to go numb. The radiologist will locate the area in question and then use a dye visible on x-ray to confirm the needle is in the correct position. A pain relieving injection of anaesthetic and steroid is then injected into the joint. The needle is removed, and a small dressing will be applied to the area.

How long will the procedure take?
This varies from patient to patient but will take approximately 20 minutes.

What happens after the procedure?
You will be able to mobilise gently, as you feel able to. Some patients may experience numbness down the leg. This will only be temporary, you will be asked to wait outside the examination room for ten minutes or so before leaving the department. A nurse or radiographer will check you are alright before you go home. You will need to bring someone with you to the hospital to stay with
you and drive you home afterwards. It would be best if that person could stay with you for a while when you get home. You will be given a pain diary following this
procedure which needs to be completed for 7 days and returned in the envelope provided.

What are the possible complications?
With any procedure there may be some risks, these include:
1)Infection – All the equipment used is sterile and will be disposed of at the end of the procedure.
2)Bleeding – There is very little blood lost during the procedure. The dressing should remain in
place overnight.
3)You need to be aware that there is a 1 in a million chance that there is some form of permanent paralysis below the waist.

These are all quite rare and we will do everything to minimise the chance of anything happening to you.

Any further queries?
Our contact number is 01908 995672 and we are available from 8.30 am until 5.30 pm. Monday to Friday. Please do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to answer any queries you may have.

Royal College of Radiologists 06/02 Handbook of interventional Radiology and Angiography 2nd edition Mosby, Myron Wojtowycz.