What is a Lumbar sympathectomy?

A lumbar sympathectomy is an injection around the sympathetic nerves which run down the front of the backbone close to, but outside the spinal column.

Why am I having injections?

This particular group of nerves, called the sympathetic nerves, can sometimes give rise to pain in the limbs, and often other sensations such as feeling cold and clammy, and changes in colour can also occur. These nerves also control the blood supply to the limbs.

What is injected?

Local anaesthetic is injected directly around the nerves. This will result in temporary numbness.

How is it done?

  • You will be asked to wear a gown.
  • A small needle called a cannula may be put into the back of your hand
  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach on the x-ray table
  • The area is cleaned with anti-septic,
  • X-ray pictures are taken through-out the procedure to direct the needle around the nerve.
  • The Consultant will numb the area with local anaesthetic before putting the injection onto the nerve.
  • Sedation is not normally used for this procedure, but if you feel anxious then you can discuss it with the consultant prior to the injection being given

How long will I be in hospital?

Although the procedure itself takes 10-15 minutes you will be asked to stay for between 1-2 hours before you are allowed home. You will need someone to pick you up and stay with you overnight, if this cannot be arranged an overnight stay in hospital may be necessary.

Can I take my usual tablets?

Take your usual medications in the morning and bring your medications with you.
Patients taking warfarin and diabetics will be given individual information.

Can I eat and drink?

Please do not have any food 6 hours prior to your appointment time. You may have clear fluids up to 2 hours before your appointment.
-Diabetics will receive individual instructions.

Can I drive home?

For safety reasons you are asked not to drive on the day of the procedure or the following day.

What can go wrong?

Local bruising may occur and this settles in a couple of days.