interventional radiology indications

Interventional Radiology Procedures for Chronic Low Back Pain


Dr. Ted Findlay, D.O., CCFP,1 Amar Suchak, MD, FRCP(C), 2

1is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Calgary. He is also in a Private Family Medicine practice. In addition he is on Medical Staff at Alberta Health Services, Calgary Zone in Calgary, Alberta.
2Clinical Assistant Professor Department of Radiology, Department of Nuclear Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.


Abstract: There is an increasing availability and clinical use of interventional radiological techniques for patients with low back pain. This can be a valuable additional tool in the management of low back pain that has not responded to conservative treatment. However, the clinical indications and appropriate uses as well as cautions that apply to this treatment modality are in many cases less well understood by the primary care practitioner. The objective of this article is to review clinical scenarios in which these procedures are commonly considered, as well as their limitations. The field of interventional radiology is one that is rapidly evolving and an area of active clinical research. It is important for the primary care practitioner to have a basic understanding of the current state of the art in order to have an informed discussion with their patients who may be seeking advice on this treatment option.
Key Words: Low back pain; treatment; interventional radiology definitions; interventional radiology indications; interventional radiology complications.

Members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada may claim MAINPRO-M2 Credits for this unaccredited educational program.

You can take quizzes without subscribing; however, your results will not be stored. Subscribers will have access to their quiz results for future reference.

1. In patients carefully selected by clinical and radiological examination, there can be satisfying clinical gains from the use of currently available interventional radiologic procedures.
2. One must not assume that abnormal findings on radiologic imaging immediately explains the anatomical cause of a patient's low back pain; a corresponding accurate history and physical examination is ideal prior to commencing injections.
3. When successful, the gains from radiological interventions should be considered one portion of a broader clinical treatment plan, rather than the entire plan of management.
4. Unsuccessful interventional procedures should not be repeated.
1. Do not apply repeated interventional procedures with an expectation that one of them will find the target source of the patient's low back pain.
2. Although they may be uncommon, interventional radiology risks can occur and the referring physician should be cognizant of these dangers that accumulate with repeated interventions.
To have access to full article that these tools were developed for, please subscribe. The cost to subscribe is $80 USD per year and you will gain full access to all the premium content on, an educational portal, that hosts 1000s of clinical reviews, case studies, educational visual aids and more as well as within the mobile app.