Accuracy of ultrasound-guided versus fluoroscopically guided contrast-controlled piriformis injections: a cadaveric study

Jonathan T Finnoff, Mark Friedrich B Hurdle, Jay Smith
Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine: Official Journal of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine 2008, 27 (8): 1157-63

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to compare the accuracy of ultrasound-guided piriformis injections with fluoroscopically guided contrast-controlled piriformis injections in a cadaveric model.

METHODS: Twenty piriformis muscles in 10 unembalmed cadavers were injected with liquid latex using both fluoroscopically guided contrast-controlled and US-guided injection techniques. All injections were performed by the same experienced individual. Two different colors of liquid latex were used to differentiate injection placement for each procedure, and the injection order was randomized. The gluteal regions were subsequently dissected by an individual blinded to the injection technique. Colored latex seen within the piriformis muscle, sheath, or both was considered an accurate injection.

RESULTS: Nineteen of 20 ultrasound-guided injections (95%) correctly placed the liquid latex within the piriformis muscle, whereas only 6 of the 20 fluoroscopically guided contrast-controlled injections (30%) were accurate (P = .001). The liquid latex in 13 of the 14 missed fluoroscopically guided contrast-controlled piriformis injections and the single missed ultrasound-guided injection was found within the gluteus maximus muscle. In the single remaining missed fluoroscopically guided contrast-controlled piriformis injection, the liquid latex was found within the sciatic nerve.

CONCLUSIONS: In this cadaveric model, ultrasound-guided piriformis injections were significantly more accurate than fluoroscopically guided contrast-controlled injections. Despite the use of bony landmarks and contrast, most of the fluoroscopically attempted piriformis injections were placed superficially within the gluteus maximus. Clinicians performing piriformis injections should be aware of the potential pitfalls of fluoroscopically guided contrast-controlled piriformis injections and consider using ultrasound guidance to ensure correct needle placement.

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