Chemical Lumbar Sympathectomy

Please refer to the Lumbar Sympathectomy information sheet and Spinal Injections Information sheet.

What is a Chemical Lumbar Sympathectomy?

This is an injection where a “chemical” (concentrated alcohol) is used to “kill” the lumbar sympathetic nerves – rather than simply anaesthetize them.

This can provide prolonged reductions in neuropathic (nerve) pain and improvements in circulation.

It is most often used to improve circulation for people with poor blood supply (ischaemia) in the legs.

Sometimes it is used to achieve longer reductions in nerve pain where a lumbar sympathectomy series has provided good relief but not for a long period of time.

Extra complications of Chemical Lumbar Sympathectomy:

In addition to the normal lumbar sympathectomy complications there are additional potential complications:

Blood pressure can remain low for longer periods of time. Rarely problematic.

Spinal nerves near the injection can be damaged by the injection. This can cause nerve pain in the groin or the legs – which can be long lasting. This is said to occur as frequently as 1 in 20 cases.

Spinal cord damage can occur if the chemical (concentrated alcohol) spreads inside the spinal canal. This risk is controlled, as the spread of the injection can be observed directly under X-Ray. Spinal cord damage is certainly more likely than in normal spinal injections, but still remains rare.

After the injection.

The NIPM nurses will call you the morning after the procedure and arrange follow up.

If you experience any severe pain, weakness or numbness, swelling, fevers, chills, severe headaches, bleeding/discharge from the wounds, or if you have any other concerns then please contact NIPM or the Day Hospital centre. If for some reason it is not possible to get in touch, please see your GP or attend your local emergency department for assessment.

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