A discogram is an invasive medical procedure used to diagnose severe cases of persistent back pain. The discogram procedure involves the use of a medical dye, which is injected into the spinal disks. After the dye has been injected, a CT scan or an X-ray is performed to produce an image for doctors to use to diagnose conditions and develop correct treatment options for the patient. Due to the fact a discogram is considered to be an invasive procedure, it is only preformed when severe back pain persists despite previous treatment attempts.
The discogram procedure is an outpatient procedure that can be conducted in a clinic or hospital setting. An intravenous sedative is often used to help the patient relax but the patient will remain awake throughout the procedure. To conduct the procedure, the patient will be placed in a hospital gown and instructed to lie flat on the examination table.
To begin the procedure, the spinal area is cleaned using an antiseptic and a doctor often injects an anesthetic to reduce pain and discomfort during the procedure. With the assistance of imaging technology, such as fluoroscopy, a needle is inserted through the skin and muscles, into the center of the disks to be examined. More than one needle may need to be inserted. After the needles are in place, the dye is injected and the needles are removed. With the dye injected, an X-ray or CT scan is performed to produce images of the disks. The images allow a doctor to properly diagnose spinal conditions, allowing them to determine an accurate course of treatment.
Risks of Discogram Procedure
While a discogram is considered to be a relatively safe procedure, there are still a number of complications that can occur. Potential complications of the discogram procedure include infection at the injection site and in between the disks, chronic back pain, and headache. Other risks of the discogram procedure include nausea, injury to blood vessels and nerves, and an allergic reaction to the injection dye.
Discogram Procedure Recovery
There is only brief recovery needed after the discogram procedure. Recovery typically lasts 30 minutes to an hour, which is strictly an observation period. If a sedative was used during the procedure, the recovery time may be longer. It is common for the injection site to remain sore for a few hours after the discogram procedure. If severe pain persists after the discogram procedure, it is important to seek medical attention to rule out a possible complication of the procedure.
“What you can expect” MayoClinic
“Diagnostic Tests” SpineHealth