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What is a Discogram?

Discograms can be useful in pre-surgical planning for patients considering spinal fusion surgery. A discogram helps pinpoint the source of pain by deliberately provoking the symptoms to create a “road map” of your pain sources. Discography may be helpful for patients who have not responded to medications and conservative treatments such as bed rest, traction or physical therapy. Besides studying abnormal discs, discograms may also detect problems within intervertebral discs that appeared normal on the CT or MRI scan.


Learn more about a Discogram:

  • We will contact you prior to your appointment to review medications you are currently taking, your medical history, potential risks and answer any of your questions.
  • Contact your provider before you stop taking any medication.
  • Food and drink instructions will be provided by our staff.
  • If you have films, reports or CD-ROMs of any MRI, CT or X-rays you have already had, please bring them to the appointment.
  • Please arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
  • At the appointment, women should always inform their provider or X-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant or if they are breast feeding.
  • Overall you should plan on approximately an hour and a half of your time for this procedure from check-in until you leave the clinic.
  • Using X-ray guidance, our specialized staff will insert a thin needle and inject contrast solution into the area thought to be causing your pain. The contrast solution is designed to highlight your anatomy of soft tissues.
  • During and immediately following the procedure, you may be asked to describe when and what type of symptoms you are feeling.
  • A discogram should reveal the exact source of your disc pain by awakening the pain symptom in that disc. When a healthy disc is injected, you may feel little or no pain. If the disc is not healthy, your pain may intensify.
  • As soon as that symptom has been recorded, the radiologist should put the disc to sleep with a local anesthetic (numbing medication).
  • You will remain awake during your procedure, which takes approximately 15-40 minutes.
  • Depending on your previous imaging studies that have been performed and the results of this procedure a CT scan may follow.

You will be asked to wait an additional 30 minutes after the procedure so that the clinic staff can monitor your symptoms before you leave.

  • Instructions about recovery including activity, rest, medications, time away from work, ect. will be shared with you.
  • Some degree of discomfort during and after this procedure is to be expected.
  • A report will be shared with your referring provider to consider next steps in your treatment.


NOTE: This procedure is not performed in all of our centers. Please contact the location or region nearest you for more information or to schedule an appointment. We are happy to help answer any questions you may have!