Does facet tropism negatively affect the response to transforaminal epidural steroid injections? A prospective clinical study

  • Alp Eren CelenlıogluEmail author
  • Savas Sencan
  • Osman Hakan Gunduz
Scientific Article



To examine the impact of the presence of facet tropism on the results of transforaminal epidural steroid injection for unilateral radicular pain induced by lumbar disc herniation.

Materials and Methods

We included 112 patients diagnosed with unilateral, single-level lumbar disc herniation-induced radicular pain. Injection was planned at relevant levels. The patients were assessed using the Numerical Rating Scale, the Modified Oswestry Disability Index, and the Beck Depression Inventory before the injection and at hour 1, week 3, and month 3 after the injection. Presence of facet tropism was assessed by measuring the facet angles in the L3–4, L4–5, and L5–S1 segments of lumbar MRI T2 sequence axial section.


A significant decrease in the Numerical Rating Scale and an increase in the Modified Oswestry Disability Index scores were detected at all follow-ups in groups comprising 39 patients with and 61 without facet tropism (p < 0.05). On comparison, improvement in clinical parameters at week 3 and month 3 in the group without facet tropism was greater (p < 0.05). As treatment success is considered to be a ≥ 50% reduction in the Numerical Rating Scale scores, 55.2% of the patients attained treatment success at month 3. Further, although the treatment success rate in the group with facet tropism was 34.2%, it was 69% in that without facet tropism (p < 0.05).


Facet tropism correlates with less success of transforaminal epidural steroid injection; therefore, facet tropism may be a worthwhile measurement in a discussion with patients of the benefits of the procedure.


Lumbar radicular pain Transforaminal epidural steroid injection Facet tropism 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© ISS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alp Eren Celenlıoglu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Savas Sencan
    • 2
  • Osman Hakan Gunduz
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Division of Pain Medicine, Faculty of MedicineErciyes UniversityKayseriTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Division of Pain MedicineFaculty of Medicine, Marmara UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  3. 3.Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Division of Pain Medicine, Faculty of MedicineMarmara UniversityIstanbulTurkey

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