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Dangers of Spinal Injections Without Proper Diagnosis

C. Norman Shealy, MD
JAMA. 1966;197(13):1104-1106. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110130104035.
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A RECENT EDITORIAL has wisely emphasized the advisability that a qualified neurological surgeon perform intraspinal surgery.1 Of equal importance is a proper diagnosis when surgery is undertaken. There is a growing tendency toward relatively blind injection therapy, often done without standard diagnostic tests.2-5 Recent problems in patients who have undergone such therapy prompt this report.

We have encountered a large intradural extramedullary vascular lesion, grossly having the appearance of pseudoaneurysm, but pathologically shown to be an invasive hemangioendothelioma. This patient had had a chymopapain injection for presumed cervical disk disease at the same level two months earlier at another hospital. While we do not suggest a direct causal relationship between the tumor and previous chymopapain injection for presumed disk rupture, it is important to emphasize the necessity for thorough diagnostic studies before treatment. A second patient had epidural injections of steroids for sciatic pain without significant pretherapy study.


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