Discography is a specialized test for examining your discs, the soft cushions in the spine between the vertebrae. With the help of X-rays, a thin needle is guided into the center of the disc for injecting dye. The purpose of this study is to see if your discs are causing your back pain. Learning more about the cause of your pain can help your doctor decide on the best treatment for you.
Before Your Test
1. Do NOT eat food for six (6) hours before your test.
2. Tell us if you have any allergies or if you have ever had a bad reaction to X-ray dyes, iodine, seafood, or shellfish.
3. Make sure someone comes with you to drive you home. You may NOT drive yourself home after receiving a sedative.
What to Expect
The test is performed in an x-ray room on an outpatient basis. An IV (intravenous line) will be started in your arm. If needed, a sedative may be given through the IV to help you relax and make the procedure as easy as possible. However, you will be awake enough to answer questions through out the test. You will receive an antibiotic through your IV before the procedure starts.
You will lie on the X-ray table on your stomach for disc injection in your back. Your back will be thoroughly cleaned and covered with sterile drapes. Using the X-ray machine, the doctor will carefully guide a very thin needle into the center of the disc. A special dye will be injected slowly into the discs and injection pressures recorded. The dye will show any leaks or tears in the disc. X-rays will be taken. During the injection, you will be asked to describe what you are feeling. The number of discs studied will depend on the type and location of the symptoms you have and what your MRI and/or CT Scan films show. The test can take from 30 minutes to 1 hour. At the end of the study, you will be given an antibiotic directly into the disc.
After the discography, you will need a CT Scan. This will help your doctor decide if your pain is coming from a tear in your discs.
You can expect to go home about two hours after receiving the sedative medicine. Your driver will need to take you home. Your usual pain will return and possibly may be more severe for a day or two after the test. You may shower the next day. If you are feeling well, you may return to work the next day. However, you may need several days to recover and return to your daily routine. You will be given a written handout on what to expect after your discography.
If you have any further questions regarding this procedure, please call our office at (608) 265-1770.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 01/09/2012
Copyright © 01/09/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5645
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