Patient Instructions for Lumbar Discography
Date of Procedure: ____________________________
If you cannot keep this appointment,
please call the Radiology Clinic at (608) 263-9729.
Your doctor has asked that you have a lumbar discogram to find out if your low back pain may be caused by a problem in the disc area.
The discogram will be done by a radiologist. It will take about 1-2 hours to complete. This test involves numbing the skin and placing a fine needle into some of your lumbar discs. A liquid with iodine will be put into the disc area through the needle. When this is done, you will be asked if you are feeling pain in your back and if the pain is like the back pain you feel most often. Many patients report more low back pain after this test. You may need more pain medicine after this test. The pain may also limit what you are able to do for a few days.
You cannot have this test if
- you have not had an MRI or CT scan of your spine.
- you are sick with a cold or other infection.
- you are allergic to x-ray dyes, iodine, or local anesthetics (numbing medicines).
- you may be or are pregnant.
- your current weight is over 390 pounds.
Before a Discogram
- If you are taking a blood thinner, please tell your doctor. You may be told to stop taking it before the test.
- If you are taking only 1 aspirin a day for your heart, you can keep taking it.
- Bring your pain medicine with you so you can take it after the test if needed.
- You may take your usual dose of pain medicine the morning of the test. Do not repeat the dose before the test. This may affect the results of the test.
- Do not eat for 2 hours before your test. You may only drink water. You can take any needed medicine during this time.
NOTE: You must have someone come with you who can drive you home after the test.
The day of the Discogram
You will report to the Radiology Department at UW Hospital and Clinics. Take the atrium elevator to the 3rd floor Radiology check-in desk.
If you have an MRI or CT that was done at another hospital you must bring it with you for the doctor to view before the test.
Possible complications of the discogram include
Serious problems after this test are rare. Problems may include infection or bleeding in the spine. You will have a chance to talk about the test with the doctor when you check in. Let the doctor know if you are diabetic or if you have had any heart problems.
After the Discogram
- Avoid any strenuous activity or heavy lifting for 24 hours. You may return to your normal routine as soon as you are able. Take the rest of the day off work.
- You may take any of the medicines that you use for your low back pain.
- It is normal to have more pain for a few days after the test than you had before the test.
- Call the doctor at the phone numbers below if you have back pain that becomes worse for no reason.
- Call if you have any signs of infection.
- A fever greater than 100.4°F by mouth for 2 readings taken 4 hours apart
- Increased redness or swelling around the site where the needle was placed
- Any drainage from the site wehre the needle was placed
Radiology Service (608) 263-9729
After hours, nights, weekends and holidays, the above number will give you the paging operator. Ask for the Radiology resident on call. Give the operator your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942.
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: 01/31/2013
Copyright © 01/31/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5244
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