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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 229-231

Fluoroscopic-guided erector spinae plane block for spine surgery

St. Joseph's Medical Center/Dignity Health, Stockton, CA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Abdalhai Alshoubi
St. Joseph's Medical Center/Dignity Health, 1800 N California St, Stockton, CA 95204
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sja.sja_694_21

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Date of Submission26-Sep-2021
Date of Acceptance29-Sep-2021
Date of Web Publication17-Mar-2022


Erector spinae plane block (ESPB) is an ultrasound-guided block that can be also done under fluoroscopic guidance, which is usually used to manage postoperative pain of the thoracic and abdominal regions. We describe a successful Fluoroscopic-guided lumbar erector spinae plane block for lower back spinal surgery.

Keywords: Local Anesthesia, lumbar vertebrae, nerve block, osteoarthritis, postoperative pain, regional anesthesia

How to cite this article:
Kim E, Alshoubi A. Fluoroscopic-guided erector spinae plane block for spine surgery. Saudi J Anaesth 2022;16:229-31

How to cite this URL:
Kim E, Alshoubi A. Fluoroscopic-guided erector spinae plane block for spine surgery. Saudi J Anaesth [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 May 18];16:229-31. Available from:

  Introduction Top

The erector spinae plane block (ESPB) is gaining popularity as an interfacial regional technique for thoracic and abdominal surgeries. There are limited options for regional techniques for lumbar spine surgeries; however, recent literature[1],[2],[3],[4] suggests consideration of the ESPB. The ESPB is traditionally performed by ultrasound guidance. We present a case of an anesthesiologist performing a successful intraoperative fluoroscopy-guided lumbar ESPB for postoperative analgesia.

  Case Summary Top

A 66-year-old male with multilevel lumbar neuroforaminal stenosis presented to our institution for scheduled two-stage extreme lateral Lumbar 3-4 and Lumbar 4-5 interbody fusion. Anesthetic induction, endotracheal intubation, and prone positioning were uneventful. For stage 1, fentanyl 100 μg was administered. The patient reported a pain severity of 9 out of 10 on recovery on the Numeric Pain Rating Scale, where 0 is no pain and 10 is severe pain. For stage 2, fentanyl 100 μg was administered intraoperatively. In addition, the anesthesiologist performed an intraoperative bilateral Lumbar 4 ESPB under fluoroscopy guidance post-closure, where the needle was directed to the transverse process of the fourth lumbar vertebra. The location was confirmed by injecting a contrast [see [Figure 1] and [Figure 2]]. The patient tolerated the procedure with no complication. The patient denied somatic back pain postoperatively, and he reported a pain severity of 5 out of 10. The patient expressed satisfaction with the regional analgesic, and he was discharged home 2 days thereafter.
Figure 1: Lumbar 4 contract injection at the level of the left transverse process

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Figure 2: Lumbar 4 contract injection at the level of the bilateral transverse process

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  Discussion Top

ESPB for lumbar fusion is associated with reduced postoperative pain and decreased hospitalization length of stay.[1] In ESPB, the local anesthetic spreads cephalocaudal to the dorsal rami of spinal nerves, which supply innervation to the paraspinal muscles and posterior skin. A cadaver study by Ivanusic et al.[5] did not show consistent spread of injectate to the ventral rami or thoracic paravertebral space. A low thoracic ESPB performed at Thoracic 12 with 25-ml injectate will not provide sensory coverage to the lower lumbar levels in 14% of patientsClick here to enter text.[6] The injectate volume limited to 20 ml will not consistently lead to cutaneous sensory loss anterior to the axillary line.[7] Lumbar ESPB may lead to motor weakness, as local anesthetic can potentially spread anterior of the transverse process to the lumbar plexus and lumbar spinal nerves.[8] Interfascial blocks are volume dependent for spread, and the amount required differs on the region. Five milliliters at the vertebral level is indicated in the lumbar region versus 2.5 ml per thoracic level.[8] Given the above factors, our team elected to administer 15 ml of ropivacaine 0.2% at the Lumbar 4 transverse process bilaterally.

Fluoroscopy and ultrasound guidance have both been used for pain procedures. Fluoroscopy guidance is the mainstay in interventional pain and neuraxial procedures. Injection of contrast can be used to visualize spread of injectate and also monitor for intravascular uptake. Fluoroscopy is potentially several minutes faster than ultrasound.[9] Fluoroscopy does expose the practitioner and patient to ionizing radiation. In comparison, the lack of radiation does make ultrasound preferable in select populations like obstetrics or pediatrics. Ultrasound can be challenging to use with an obese habitus. It is challenging to accurately label vertebral levels in degenerated anatomy with ultrasound. Obesity and spinal degeneration are common in patients undergoing interbody fusions.

Another factor to consider is the timing of ESPB. A preoperative single-shot ESPB will benefit from an intact fascial plane, which potentially yields more consistent cephalocaudal spread; however, surgical washout may lead to disruption of the local anesthetic pocket. A block in the recovery unit may be viable, but the patient will be cumbersome to position, given postoperative pain and site dressings. An intraoperative block post-closure can be performed efficiently as the fluoroscopy c-arm is immediately available.

  Conclusion Top

In summary, anesthesiologists can consider intraoperative single-shot ESPB with fluoroscopy expertise for lumbar spinal surgery.

Declaration of Patient Consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form, the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

van den Broek RJC, van de Geer R, Schepel NC, Liu WY, Bouwman RA, Versyck B. Evaluation of adding the Erector spinae plane block to standard anesthetic care in patients undergoing posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery. Sci Rep 2021;11:7631.  Back to cited text no. 1
Kendall MC, Alves L, Traill LL, De Oliveira GS. The effect of ultrasound-guided erector spinae plane block on postsurgical pain: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Anesthesiol 2020;20:99.  Back to cited text no. 2
Singh S, Choudhary NK, Lalin D, Verma VK. Bilateral ultrasound-guided erector spinae plane block for postoperative analgesia in lumbar spine surgery: A randomized control trial. J Neurosurg Anesthesiol 2020;32:330-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
Ciftci B, Ekinci M, Celik EC, Yayik AM, Aydin ME, Ahiskalioglu A. Ultrasound-guided erector spinae plane block versus modified-thoracolumbar interfascial plane block for lumbar discectomy surgery: A randomized, controlled study. World Neurosurg 2020;144:e849-55.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ivanusic J, Konishi Y, Barrington MJ. A cadaveric study investigating the mechanism of action of erector spinae blockade. Reg Anesth Pain Med 2018;43:567-71.  Back to cited text no. 5
Zhang J-F, Zhang W-W, Wang J, Guo H, Wang T. Distribution of the T12 erector spinal muscle plane block in the dorsal region guided by ultrasound. J Orthop Surg Res 2021;16:48.  Back to cited text no. 6
Zhang J, He Y, Wang S, Chen Z, Zhang Y, Gao Y, et al. The erector spinae plane block causes only cutaneous sensory loss on ipsilateral posterior thorax: A prospective observational volunteer study. BMC Anesthesiol 2020;20:88.  Back to cited text no. 7
Tulgar S, Aydin ME, Ahiskalioglu A, De Cassai A, Gurkan Y. Anesthetic techniques: Focus on lumbar erector spinae plane block. Local Reg Anesth 2020;13:121-33.  Back to cited text no. 8
Owen RJ, Quinlan N, Poduska A, Spiker WR, Spina NT, Brodke DS, et al. Preoperative fluoroscopically guided regional erector spinae plane blocks reduce opioid use, increase mobilization, and reduce length of stay following lumbar spine fusion. Global Spine J 2021:219256822110107. doi: 10.1177/21925682211010740.  Back to cited text no. 9


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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