How Is A Lumbar Discogram (Diskogram) Performed?

How Is A Lumbar Discogram (Diskogram) Performed?

Discography, also called discogram, is a diagnostic procedure used to determine if back pain is caused by one or more discs. This can be from degenerative disc disease or a ruptured disk. The procedure involves pressurizing discs with an injection of sterile liquid to generate pain in the affected discs. Discography helps the pain specialist plan a course of treatment. Patients lie either on their side or stomach on the table equipped with a fluoroscopic x-ray machine.

An intravenous IV line is used to adinister medication to relax the patient. It is important for patients to be awake enough to tell the doctor what they are feeling during the procedure. A local anesthetic numbs the skin and all the tissue down to the disc area. Using fluoroscopy to clarify the correct location the doctor inserts a guide needle by the anesthetized track to the outer edge of the disk. A smaller needle is inserted by the guide needle into the center of disc. This may be repeated for more than one disc.

Once all the needles are placed the discs are pressured one at at time with injections of contrast dye. With each injection patients feel either pressure or pain. If pain is felt it is important for patients to compare it to the pain they had been experiencing on a regular basis. If it is pain this may indicate a diseased disc. After each disc is tested images are taken with the fluoroscopic unit.

The needles are removed and patients may be taken for a CT examine to acquire additional images of the inside of the discs. Diskography usually takes less than an hour to perform. The procedure may cause soreness for a few days. Patients are usually advised to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen and ice the affected area for several minutes each day till the soreness resolves.

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