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Treatments

Dorsal root ganglion block

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About dorsal root ganglion block

A dorsal root ganglion block, also known as nerve root block, is a procedure used to manage pain in your lower back or limbs. As well as treating pain, the procedure is also used to help diagnose the cause of your back pain.

A cross-section of the spine 

During the procedure, a steroid – sometimes in combination with a local anaesthetic – is injected into a group of nerve cells on either side of your spine called the dorsal root ganglion. Together, they reduce inflammation and irritation in the spinal nerves, helping to relieve back and limb pain.

How can I prepare for my dorsal root ganglion block?

When you have a dorsal root ganglion block, you will be seen as a day case. However, you should arrange to have someone take you home after the procedure.

When you go for your procedure, take a list of any medicines you are currently taking.

A dorsal root ganglion block involves an X-ray. If you are a women of child bearing age, you will be asked for details of your last menstrual period and whether there is any possibility that you are pregnant.

What happens during my treatment?

Before the procedure, your doctor will talk you through the process and ask you to sign a consent form.

First, you will be asked to lie flat on your front.Your doctor will then sterilize the skin on your lower back and inject a local anaesthetic there. This will prevent you from being able to feel the injection into your spine.

Your doctor will usually use a device called a fluoroscope when performing a dorsal root ganglion block. This allows him or her to see an X-ray of your spine on a screen in real-time.

Your doctor will insert a special needle into your spine, carefully guiding it towards the dorsal root ganglion. You may be asked if you experience any back pain as the needle is positioned, this helps your doctor find the correct site for the injection.

When your doctor is happy, he or she will slowly inject a solution of a steroid (and sometimes local anaesthetic), into your spine.

The procedure usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes, but it can sometimes take longer. Because you do not need a general anaesthetic, you will be able to leave that day.

Are there any complications or risks with a dorsal root ganglion block?

Like any procedure, a dorsal root ganglion block carries some risk of complications. However these are rare. They include allergic reactions, infections and bleeding.

Some people may also have side effects from the steroid in the injection. These could include not sleeping well, nervousness or nightmares, however, these side effects are short lasting.

Recovering from a dorsal root ganglion block

After your procedure your doctor will help you stand. Sometimes, you may feel weakness in your legs if the nerves that control your movement have also been affected.However, this doesn't last long. Most people will start to experience some pain relief within 15 minutes of the procedure.

How much does a dorsal root ganglion block cost?

For a guide to what you could pay for your treatment, click here.

What to do now

Once you have decided that you would like to be treated at an HCA hospital, or would like further information, here's what to do next: 

  1. Call one of our advisors on + 44 (0) 20 7079 4399 or complete our web enquiry form.
  2. Check with your insurance company that your policy covers your treatment, and obtain authorisation.
  3. Visit or call your GP to obtain a referral letter and then call us to make an appointment to visit your chosen consultant and hospital at a time to suit you.
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