Spinal Discography is a diagnostic procedure which is used to evaluate patients who have not responded to less invasive treatments for neck or lower back pain. A common use for spinal discography is planning for fusion surgery.
Discography entails injecting X-Ray contrasting dye into the soft center of one or more of the discsin the spine. This injection can sometimes reproduce a patient’s pain. As the dye moves it highlights any cracks in the exterior of the vertebrae disc which then become detectable in an Xray or CT Scan.
Lumbar discography specifically is considered for patients who have reached the conclusion of other conservative and less invasive treatments but have ongoing pain and the surgeon is needing more information on which levels to include in surgery.
A discogram usually takes about thirty to sixty minutes depending on how many discs are tested. The doctor may provide a sedative to help you relax and you also may be given an antibiotic to prevent possible infection.
The discogram is performed with the patient lying on the stomach, as is typical for spinal procedures. Vital signs arecontinuously takento monitor the effects of any sedatives that may be used. The skin over the injection area or areas is sanitized with an antiseptic and then the injections are performed. Sometimes a CT of the spine will be obtained at a nearby facility.
Expect to take a few days off of work after the procedure and take it easy.
It is normal to have some pain at the injection site(s) or in the lower back for up to several hours after the procedure. Applying an ice pack to the area(s) for 20 minutes at a time might help.
If a severe back pain develops or there is onset of fever one to two weeks after the procedure, call the doctor right away.