Discography refers to a radiodiagnostic procedure to evaluate the structural integrity of a disc and determine if it is the source of neck and back pain. Performed under real-time x-ray or fluoroscopic guidance, discography is done to find out a “pain generator” disc. The procedure helps in planning surgical and non-surgical treatment for back and neck pain
How is the discogram procedure performed?
Discogram involves the injection of dye under real-time x-ray to identify the structural abnormality in a disc. Patients are advised to stop certain medications, especially NSAIDS, before the procedure, which is performed under local anesthesia. Doctors may administer intravenous sedation to make patients more comfortable.
For lumbar or low-back discogram, patients are asked to lie on their stomach. In case of cervical or neck discography, patients lie down on their back.
The skin above the targeted area is numbed using a local anesthetic. A needle is inserted into the suspected disc under fluoroscopic guidance. A radiopaque dye is put into the needle. Doctors observe the dye pattern to see if there is any structural abnormality in the disc.
The injection has a mixture of x-ray contrast and antibiotics. The contrast is vital to identify any rupture or disruption in the disc wall. Antibiotics help prevent infection.It takes about 45 minutes to perform a discogram.