Discography is a minimally invasive diagnostic imaging test to help your doctor determine whether the source of your back pain is caused by a spinal disc problem. The procedure involves using fluoroscopy (real-time X-ray technology) and a special dye that makes your disc(s) visible on the X-ray. Because spinal discs wear down over time, they tend to thin and lose their cushion or padding. This may result in painful, compressed nerve roots or friction between vertebrae. Discs may also bulge out of place or herniate, which can cause neck pain, back pain or radiating pain down a limb.
How is it beneficial?
While a discography does not treat your pain, it is an effective tool to help your doctor visualize the disc(s) suspected to be source of your pain. Because of the unique information it reveals, your doctor is better equipped to evaluate your disc-related pain and to develop an accurate treatment plan.
What can I expect?
Once the area is sterilized, it is numbed with a local anesthetic. Guided by fluoroscopy, your doctor inserts a needle into the center of the disc being examined. Once inserted, a contrast dye is injected. The pressure created by the injection is also used to determine whether the disc being examined is the source of your pain. The discography takes about half an hour.
Recovery time is relatively short due to the nature of the procedure. You may feel slight discomfort at the injection site. You will be monitored for signs of infection, bleeding or other complications. Be sure to follow discharge instructions, and contact your doctor if discomfort continues or new symptoms arise.
How soon will I feel relief?
After reviewing the results of your discography, your doctor will devise a customized treatment plan to help reduce your pain.