Original Research

Fluoroscopically Guided Lateral Approach Hip Injection

A retrospective comparison study of the anterior-oblique and lateral approach to hip injection procedures suggests that the lateral approach may be a valuable interventional skill for those performing hip injections.

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Hip injections are performed as diagnostic and therapeutic interventions across a variety of medical subspecialties, including but not limited to those practicing physical medicine and rehabilitation, pain medicine, sports medicine, orthopedic surgery, and radiology. Traditional image-guided intra-articular hip injection commonly uses an anterior-oblique approach from a starting point on the anterior groin traversing soft tissue anterior to the femoral neck to the target needle placement at the femoral head-neck junction.

In fluoroscopic procedures, a coaxial technique for needles placement is used for safe and precise insertion of needles. An X-ray beam is angled in line with the projected path of the needle from skin entry point to injection target. Coaxial, en face technique (also called EF, parallel, hub view, down the barrel, or barrel view) appears as a single radiopaque dot over the target injection site.1 This technique minimizes needle redirection for correction of the injection path and minimal disturbance of surrounding tissue on the approach to the intended target.

Noncoaxial technique, as used in the anterior-oblique approach, intentionally directs the needle away from a skin entry point, the needle barrel traversing the X-ray beam toward an injection target. Clinical challenges to injection with the anterior-oblique approach include using a noncoaxial technique. Additional challenges to the anterior-oblique (also referred to as anterior) approach are body habitus and pannus, proximity to neurovascular structures, and patient positioning. By understanding the risks and benefits of varied technical approaches to accomplish a clinical goal and outcome, trainees are better able to select the technique most appropriate for a varied patient population.

Common risks to patients for all intra-articular interventions include bleeding, infection, and pain. Risk of damage to nearby structures is often mentioned as part of a standard informed consent process as it relates to the femoral vein, artery, and nerve that are in close anatomical proximity to the target injection site. When prior studies have examined the risk of complications resulting from intra-articular hip injections, a common conclusion is that despite a relatively low-risk profile for skilled interventionalists, efforts to avoid needle placement in the medial 50% of the femoral head on antero-posterior imaging is recommended.2

The anterior technique is a commonly described approach, and the same can be used for both ultrasound-guided and fluoroscopically guided hip injections.3 Using ultrasound guidance, the anterior technique can be performed with in-plane direct visualization of the needle throughout the procedure. With fluoroscopic guidance, the anterior approach is performed out-of-plane, using the noncoaxial technique. This requires the interventionalist to use tactile and anatomic guidance to the target injection site. The anterior approach for hip injection is one of few interventions where coaxial technique is not used for the procedure, making the instruction for a learner less concrete and potentially more challenging related to the needle path not under direct visualization in plane with the X-ray beam.

Technical guidance and detailed instruction for the lateral approach is infrequently described in fluoroscopic interventional texts. Reference to a lateral approach hip injection was made as early as the 1970s, without detail provided on the technique, with respect to the advantage of visualization of the hip joint for needle placement when hardware is in place.4 A more recent article described a lateral approach technique involving the patient in a decubitus (lateral) supine position, which presents limitations in consistent fluoroscopic imaging and can be a challenging static position for the patient to maintain.5

The retrospective review of anterior-oblique and lateral approach procedures in this study aims to demonstrate that there is no significant difference in radiation exposure, rate of successful intra-articular injection, or complication rate. If proven as a noninferior technique, the lateral approach may be a valuable interventional skill to those performing hip injections. Potential benefits to the patient and provider include options for the provider to access the joint using either technique. Additionally, the approach can be added to the instructional plan for those practitioners providing technical instruction to trainees within their health care system.

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