Discogram is a test to answer the questions where MRI falls short.
It is an anatomic and functional test. The Disc in the spine can cause low back or leg pain. With this test we put a very fine needle into the center of the disc and we measure the pressure and test it to not only look for a cause of pain but also to look for tears, cracks and herniations in the disc not visible with MRI scanning. The injection sometimes reproduces your back pain or leg pain pattern which provides the doctor with a more accurate diagnosis of the origin of a patient’s symptoms, this is called a “provocative discogram.”
We also use a discogram before spinal fusion surgery to help identify which disks need to be treated.
Dr. Magaziner performs a discogram in a state-of-the-art surgery center that has the proper imaging equipment. You’ll likely be there for up to three hours, although the test itself takes 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how many disks are tested. A CT scan is usually performed as well to enhance the diagnostic value.
Before the Procedure
Although you’re awake during the procedure, your doctor might give you a sedative through a vein to help you relax. You also might be given an antibiotic to help prevent infection.
During The Procedure
You lie on a table on your abdomen or side. After cleaning your skin, your doctor may inject a numbing medicine to decrease pain caused by the insertion of the discogram needle.
Your doctor will use an imaging technique (fluoroscopy) to watch the needle enter your body. Fluoroscopy allows more precise and safer placement of the needle into the center of the disk to be examined. A contrast dye is then injected into the disk, and an X-ray or CT scan is taken to see if the dye spreads.
If the dye stays in the center of the disk, the disk is normal. If the dye spreads outside the center of the disk, the disk has undergone some wear-and-tear change. These changes might or might not be the cause of your pain.
Typically, if a disk is causing your back pain, you will feel pain during the injection that’s similar to the back pain you have daily. If a disk is normal, there’s little pain during the injection. During the discogram, you’ll be asked to rate your pain.
After The Procedure
You remain in the procedure room for approximately 30 to 60 minutes for observation. After that, you’ll be able to go home, but you’ll need someone to drive.
It’s normal to have some pain at the injection site or in the low back for several hours after the procedure. Applying an ice pack to the area for 20 minutes at a time might help. You’ll need to keep your back dry for 24 hours.
If you develop severe back pain or you develop a fever one to two weeks after the procedure, call your doctor right away.
Dr. Magaziner will review the images and the information you provided about the pain you had during the procedure to help pinpoint the source of your back pain. Dr. Magaziner uses this information to guide your treatment or prepare for surgery.
For more information on discogram, please contact our North Brunswick office.
Or Like Dr. Magaziner On Facebook To Get Updates