The discogram also known as diskogram is a test procedure to examine back pain and evaluate or determine which abnormal disc or discs in the spinal cord is the source of the back pain. Spinal discs are jelly donut like cushions with a touch protective cover located between the vertebrae of the spinal cord. Through the help of discography, a specialist can help you plan a course of treatment.
The patient lies down on their stomach while getting ready for the procedure. A medication to relax your nerve is given through an intravenous (IV) line. An anesthetic is also administered to desensitize the skin and all the tissue surrounding the disc area. In this procedure, a small x-ray devise referred to as a fluoroscope is utilized to help the physician see the image where the exact position of the disc is located. It is also noted that the patient should be conscious during the procedure to give the physician feedback on how or what he is feeling.
Inserting the Guide Needles
A fluoroscope is used to help the physician locate the targeted disc. A needle called a guide needle is slid into the anesthetized track traversing to the fringes of the disc. A smaller needle is then slid into the guide needle going to the core of the affected disc. The same procedure is done to several discs depending on the number of injured disc.
Once each needle is already secured in place, each disc is subsequently pressurized and injected by contrast dye. With every injection, the patient may experience either pain or increase in pressure. In the event that the patient experiences pain, he will be asked by the physician to differentiate the pain he is experiencing now vs the pain he has felt previously. Should the pain be similar, the experience is an indicator of a diseased disc. Pictures are taken through the fluoroscopic machine after each disc testing.
After the procedure, the needles are then withdrawn. The entry wounds are cleaned and the patient is taken for a CT scan to generate more images of the interior part of the disc or discs.
End of Procedure
Normally, discography only takes an hour or less to complete. The patient may still feel some soreness coming from the affected area for a few more days after the procedure. Because of this, the patient is often advised to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen with an ice pack on the affected area for a few minutes each day until the pain subsides.