How is selective nerve root block (SNRB) used in the workup of cervical radiculopathy?

Updated: Oct 08, 2018
  • Author: Gerard A Malanga, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Selective diagnostic nerve root block (SNRB)

  • In an SNRB, a small aliquot of local anesthetic is used to anesthetize the nerve root and dorsal root ganglion to determine if the patient’s pain is coming from the specific nerve root. SNRB has been shown to be useful in the diagnosis of radiculopathy, and the results correlate well with surgical findings. It is both sensitive and specific.

  • SNRB is best indicated when MRI findings are equivocal, show abnormalities at several cervical levels, and/or do not correlate with the patient’s symptoms. In these situations, a negative result on an SNRB is a superior indication of the absence of an offending lesion and may deter surgeons from operating on a patient with a suspicious, but clinically innocuous, lesion.

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