Discogram

Overview

An imaging test used to diagnose pain is called a discogram. It is also known as a discography. Discogram helps specialists determine if a specific abnormal disc in the spine is causing pain.

Padda Institute has a full range of advanced imaging tests X-Rays, MRI, and CT scans available right at the center. We determine the root cause of pain through the patient’s history and physical examination, reviewing X-Rays, CT’s/MRI’s, or other diagnostic injection procedures such as sacroiliac & facet joint injections or nerve root blocks before performing discography.


Request an Appointment!

What Are Spinal Discs?

Soft, cushion-like discs separate the hard vertebral bones of your spine. A dye is injected into the soft center of one or more discs during the discogram procedure. Unfortunately, the injection sometimes causes pain in your neck, mid-back, low back and arms, chest wall, abdomen, and legs.

Dye is pulled into any cracks in the disc’s exterior and can be seen on an X-ray or CT scan. However, discs showing wear and tear may not cause symptoms. For this reason, discograms might not always be useful.

What Is Discography & Why It Is Done?

A discogram is an invasive test that is rarely used to diagnose back discomfort. If your back pain persists despite conservative treatments like medication and physical therapy, your doctor may recommend a discogram.

Before undergoing spinal fusion surgery, some doctors use a discogram to determine which discs will be removed. Discograms, on the other hand, are not always accurate in determining which discs are causing back pain. As a result, many doctors rely on additional tests to diagnose disc abnormalities and guide treatment, such as MRI and CT scans.

Risks Factors

In general, discograms are safe. The risk of complications associated with a discogram is the same as with any medical procedure. The risk factors included are

  • It is infectious and can cause an allergic reaction to the dye
  • Worsening of chronic back pain
  • Headaches
  • Nerves or blood vessels around the spine can be injured

How To Prepare For Procedure?

For a period before the procedure, you may need to refrain from taking blood-thinning medications. Consult your doctor for recommendations. You should also avoid eating or drinking the morning of the test.

What To Expect?

The discogram is performed using imaging equipment in a clinic or hospital. Although the test can take up to 60 minutes, depending on how many discs are tested, you can expect to spend up to three hours there.

Before Procedure

Although you will be awake during the procedure, your doctor may give you a sedative to help you relax. As a preventive measure, doctors might prescribe antibiotics.

During Procedure

During the discogram procedure, you will lie on your side or abdomen on a table and your doctor may inject numbing medicine into your skin to decrease any pain caused by the needle insertion. Using fluoroscopy, your doctor will observe the discogram needle go into your body. Fluoroscopy enables more precise and safer needle placement into the disc’s center. Afterward, a contrast dye is injected into the disc, and an X-ray or CT scan is taken to see if the dye has spread. If the dye spreads outside the disc’s center, the disc has undergone some wear-and-tear change. These changes may or may not be the source of your discomfort. However, if the dye stays inside the disc’s center, the disc is normal. Typically, if a disc is causing your back pain, you will feel pain during the injection, similar to your daily back pain. If a disc is normal, there’s little pain during the injection. During the procedure, you’ll be asked to describe and rate your pain.

Can I Go To Sleep During Procedure?

The procedure is only to diagnose and not to treat the problem. It is important that you are able to talk to your doctor and let him know the pain that you are experiencing. You will be given enough medicine to make you comfortable, but you won’t be able to sleep.

After Procedure

For observation, you will be required to stay in the procedure room for 30 to 60 minutes. You will be able to go home after that, however, you will need someone to drive you home. It is totally normal for you to feel pain at the injection area or in the low back for a couple of hours after the procedure. Applying an ice pack for 20 minutes to the area might be helpful. Although you need to keep the back dry for 24 hours. If you have severe back pain or fever one or two weeks after the procedure, get in touch immediately on 314-481-5000!

Specialists At Painmd

Doctors at Painmd will analyze the images and information provided regarding the pain to help locate the source of pain. The specialist will use this information to assist with the treatment or surgery.
We do not rely solely on the results of a discogram, as a disc with wear and tear changes may not cause the pain. Furthermore, pain responses during a discogram might be extremely variable. When developing a treatment plan for back pain, the results of a discogram are usually paired with the results of other tests, such as an MRI or CT scan and a physical examination.

Have a Question?