Elective spinal injections should be performed with imaging guidance, such as fluoroscopy or the use of a radiocontrast agent , unless that guidance is contraindicated.  Imaging guidance ensures the correct placement of the needle and maximizes the physician's ability to make an accurate diagnosis and administer effective therapy.  Without imaging, the risk increases for the injection to be incorrectly placed, and this would in turn lower the therapy's efficacy and increase subsequent risk of need for more treatment.  While traditional techniques without image guidance, also known as blind injections , can assure a degree of accuracy using anatomical landmarks, it has been shown in studies that image guidance provides much more reliable localization and accuracy in comparison.
Cervical Epidural Steroid Injections involve injecting a steroid into the epidural space of the cervical spinal canal where irritated nerve roots are located. The injected medications include both a long-lasting steroid and a local anesthetic (Lidocaine, Bupivacaine).
The steroid reduces inflammation and irritation, while the anesthetic interrupts the pain-spasm cycle and nociceptor transmission (Boswell 2007). The medicines spread to the most painful levels of the spine, reducing inflammation and irritation. The entire procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes.
An epidural steroid injection places this powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly around the spinal nerves. Traditionally epidural injections were administered without any special equipment, by inserting the needle by feel in the area around the spinal nerves. More recently epidural injections have been administered with the aid of imaging tools to allow your physician to see the needle going to the proper location. Either real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy, or CT scan can be used to 'watch' the needle deliver the medication to the proper location.