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A myelogram is an exam of the spinal cord and column to identify the root cause of your back pain and help your doctor determine a proper treatment plan. This procedure is also sometimes used if you are unable to have an MRI exam. Because it is a diagnostic test, it is not intended to relieve your pain.

A myelogram usually takes about 30 minutes. After the myelogram, a CT scan will be done to gather detailed pictures of your spine, which will take an additional 15-30 minutes. Overall you should budget about an hour and a half for the entire exam and check in. The video below explains what will happen during your procedure. More detailed information is also listed below for your convenience.  

Learn more about this exam:

  • We will call you prior to your appointment to discuss specific preparation instructions; medications you are taking, potential risks, past imaging exams you may have and give you an opportunity to ask any questions.
  • You may be asked to change into a hospital gown and the technologist will explain the procedure and answer your questions.
  • You will lie on an x-ray table and the skin in the targeted area will be cleaned and then numbed with a local anesthetic similar to what a dentist uses and using fluoroscopy (live x-ray) for guidance, a thin needle is used to inject contrast into the area thought to be causing your pain. This could briefly cause you to feel a pressure sensation or experience brief discomfort.
  • The radiologist will monitor the flow of contrast with fluoroscopy as the fluid flows up the spine by using controls on the special exam table to tilt your body slightly.
  • Then static X-ray pictures will be taken to ensure proper placement of the contrast solution.
  • While the contrast is still in effect, you may be moved to a computed tomography (CT) suite for an additional scan that is used to help better define the cause of your pain.

Our radiologist, a medical doctor with advanced training in interpreting medical images, will review the images and provide your doctor a detailed report about your images. This report, along with any other relevant information or tests, will assist your doctor in determining the best treatment plan for you. Specific recovery instructions will be given to you at your exam.

Although complications are rare, we will review possible side effects and risks with you prior to your exam so you can ask questions and decide if this exam is right for you.


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!