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This diagnostic procedure, also called discography, is used to determine whether back pain is caused by one or more spinal discs. The procedure involves pressurizing suspect discs with an injection of sterile liquid to induce pain. A discogram helps the specialist plan a course of treatment.
To begin the discography, you lie down and you are given medicine to help you relax. You will still be awake. That's so you can tell your doctor what you feel during the procedure. Your lower back is numbed with local anesthetic.
The doctor uses a video x-ray device called a "fluoroscope" to carefully guide a needle into the target disc. If more than one disc is being tested, a needle is placed into each one.
Next, the doctor injects contrast dye into each disc, one at a time. The dye raises the pressure inside the discs. When this happens, you may feel pressure or pain. If you feel pain, that may be a sign that the disc is diseased. The doctor will take images with the fluoroscope so your discs can be studied carefully.
When the procedure is done, the needles are removed. Before you leave, your doctor may want to get a more detailed scan of your discs. Discography can cause your back to be slightly sore for a few days. Your healthcare provider will give you tips to help ease this minor pain.
Learn more about the Spine Center at Resurgens Orthopaedics.