A discogram helps pinpoint the source of pain by deliberately provoking the symptoms to create a “road map” of your pain sources. It is used to 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
Discograms are useful in pre-surgical planning for patients considering spinal fusion surgery. Discography may also be helpful for patients who have not responded to medications and conservative treatments such as bed rest, traction or physical therapy. Discograms may also detect problems within intervertebral discs that appeared normal on the CT or MRI scan.
What to Expect
- We’ll contact you prior to your appointment to review current medications, your medical history, potential risks, and preparation instructions. We’ll also answer any questions you have about the procedure.
- Be sure to tell us if you are pregnant, nursing, or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
- Let us know if you have any previous history of iodine allergies, or if you are diabetic.
- If you take blood thinners, we will contact your physician to discuss discontinuing them. This may cause a slight delay in scheduling your appointment.
- Discontinue pain medications eight hours prior to your exam. Contact your doctor before you stop taking any medication.
- Liquids and/or a light meal are recommended one to two hours prior to your injection.
- On the day of your exam, please arrive 15 minutes early to check in.
- Please arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
- 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.
- When you arrive, you will be led to a changing room and given a pair of scrubs to wear for your exam. You will be given a locker to store your clothes, and anything else you may have with you during your exam.
- You will lie on your stomach for lumbar and thoracic exams and on your back for cervical exams. You will remain awake during your procedure.
- Using X-ray guidance, a radiologist 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 to help ensure precise targeting.
- You can expect some degree of discomfort during and after this procedure.
- During and immediately following the procedure, you may be asked to describe when and what type of symptoms you are feeling.
- As soon as a symptom has been recorded, the radiologist will numb the disc with a local anesthetic.
- 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 the clinic staff can monitor your symptoms before you leave.
- When your procedure is complete, you’ll be escorted back to the changing room so you can change out of the scrubs and back into your clothing.
- We will provide you with detailed instructions for recovery including activity, rest, medications, time away from work, etc.
- You should plan on taking it easy for the remainder of the day. The decision to resume limited activities or return work the following day is under your discretion.
- Allow two to three days for complete recuperation.
- A report will be shared with your referring provider to help inform next steps in your treatment.