Cervical and Lumbar Discograms, Southlake, TX, a discogram, also known as discography, is an imaging test that is used to diagnose and evaluate back pain. It helps your doctor to ascertain if a weakened, displaced or damaged disk is the cause of your back or neck pain.
The disks act as cushion pads that are made up of cartilage and jellylike substance. The disks act as shock absorbers and cushions between the bones in your spine. If a disk is weakened, displaced or damaged due to certain factors, you may begin to feel back and neck pain.
In order to know the actual cause of your back or neck pain, your doctor may recommend undergoing a discogram.
A discogram is usually a pre-surgical test. It is used when a surgical procedure is been contemplated.
The cervical spine is the neck region that consists of seven bones (C1-C7 vertebrae). These vertebrae are separated from one another by intervertebral discs.
Degenerative disc disease or herniated discs are some conditions that cause the disc to weaken, displace out of position or damage. When such conditions happen, you may begin to feel pain in your neck and back.
Cervical discogram is used to evaluate or diagnose if the pain is caused by a damaged, weakened, or displaced disc.
The lumbar spine is the lower part of your back. It consists of five vertebrae which are separated from one another by intervertebral discs.
Some certain factors and conditions can make the discs become weakened, displaced, or damaged. When this happens, you will begin to feel pain in your lower back.
Your doctor will recommend lumbar discogram to diagnose or evaluate if the pain you are feeling at your lumbar spine is called by a weakened, displaced, or damaged disc.
Who is an ideal candidate for a discogram
A discogram is an invasive test that is used for persistent back or neck pain that is not resolved even after other conservative treatments. It is not used for an initial evaluation of back or neck pain.
Discogram is recommended when a surgical procedure is in view. This means your doctor will use a discogram to diagnose or evaluate if the disc is the cause of the pain and which disc is responsible for the pain before a surgery such as spinal fusion surgery.
If you have used other conservative treatments for your back or neck pain and still no improvements, you may be an ideal candidate for a discogram.
Preparing for a discogram procedure
Cervical and Lumbar Discograms, Southlake, TX Before undergoing a discogram procedure, you may need to avoid taking blood-thinning medications for some time. Your doctor will tell instruct you on what medicines you should and shouldn’t take. You are not supposed to eat any food or drink anything the morning before the test.
During the procedure
You will be asked to lie on a table on your abdomen or side. Your doctor will mark the area to be examined with an ink pen and thoroughly clean your skin. He or she may inject a numbing medicine to decrease pain during the insertion of the discogram needle. Sedation is usually avoided so that any reactions or sensations that you may feel will not be interfered with.
Using an imaging technique (fluoroscopy), your doctor will then inject the discogram needle into your body. The fluoroscopy allows your doctor to see the direction of the needle inside your body. It allows for more precise and safer placement of the needle into the center of the disk.
Your doctor will then inject a contrast dye into the soft center of one or more disks. An X-ray or CT scan is used to see if the dye spreads.
Your doctor will then observe to see if the dye stays in the center of the disk or spreads out. If the dye remains in the center of the disk, your disk is normal but if the dye spreads outside the center of the disk, it means the disk has undergone some wear-and-tear or damaged. This condition of the disk might or might not be the cause of your pain.
You will be asked to describe the pain you feel during the injection. If indeed it is a disk that is causing the back pain, you will feel pain during the injection. The pain you feel will be similar to the pain you always feel before. If the cause of the pain is not the disk, you will feel very little pain during the injection.
After the procedure
After the procedure is completed, you will remain in the procedure room for about 30 to 60 minutes for observation. You can go back home, but you will need someone to drive you back home as you may not be perfectly okay to drive.
You may feel some pain at the injection site or in your lower back for several hours after the procedure. You may need to apply ice pack to the area for about 20 at intervals. Ensure you keep the examined area dry for 24 hours.
Call your doctor if you experience any serious side effects such as severe back pain or fever.
Cervical and Lumbar Discograms, Southlake, TX, After the procedure, your doctor will review the images and information that were gotten during the procedure. The images and information will help your doctor to know the exact cause and source of your back pain.
Most times, a discogram is conducted in combination with CT scan or MRI. This is because the results of a discogram alone may be wrong. A combination of the other imaging tests helps to provide a more accurate result.
If a weakened, displaced, or damaged disk is actually the cause of your back pain, your doctor will guide you in preparation for a surgery.
Possible Risks and Complications of a Discogram
Just like any other invasive test, there are some possible risks or complications that may occur. These include:
- Worsening of the back pain
- Disc space infection
- Nerve or blood vessels injury
- Spinal headache
- Allergic reaction to the numbing agent or dye