FAQ’s on Discogram of the Lumbar Region

A discogram is a procedure used to find out which intervertebral discs are causing a patient’s Back Pain. Other causes may be causing the patient to experience symptoms of pain. It is an exact image of the discs to diagnose the root cause of pain.

Who can benefit from a discogram?

A ruptureor a degenerative infection in the intervertebral discs can cause back pain. A discogram procedure involves inducing pressure inthe discs by injectingsterile fluid to stimulate pain in the affected ones. It helps doctorsdecide a course of action. Patients lie face down on a table mounted with fluoroscopic X-ray machines. They areonly semi-conscious so they are coherent enough to answer questions regarding symptoms and sensations duringthe procedure.

A lumbar discogram helps to evaluate patients in cases where other nonsurgical diagnosticsand treatments have not produced anyresults. It is only used withpatients who present withpersistent, severe chronic pain of the lower back, or with abnormal space between their vertebrae due to an injury or congenital defect.

What is the diagnostic Procedure?

Needles are put into the disc near the affected area, guided by fluoroscopy. Diagnostic dye is injected in the discs to induce pressure, and the following pain responses are recorded. Two or three discs are treated at once, with a control disc for comparison. This process is repeated until all discs have been examined.

The patient feels no pain although he or she is conscious.The healthy disc only feels a slight pressure. However, the same symptoms will be re-created in an affected disc before the discogram

What can be expected when the dye is injected?

A patient may either feel painor pressure or nothing at all. Once the discs are pressurized, the needles are removed carefully. Photos are taken using fluoroscopy for further diagnosis. A post-disco CT is used to study the internal structure of the discs. The diagnostic procedure normally lasts less than an hour. Soreness can be relieved with acetaminophen, ice packs, or ibuprofen.Sedation is avoided to prevent interfering with sensations or reactions.

Are there any risks or complications associated with this procedure

In rare cases, a patient may have experience an allergic reaction to medication, dye or anesthesia. Patients on blood thinners, those who have an ongoing infection, or any cardiac issues should notify their doctor and look at other options besides the discogram. The patient and doctor can together consider the outcome versus an alternative method for P ain Relief in such cases.

  • Disc space infection or discitis, may occur but luckily, this is the rarest of possibilities due to the use of strong antibiotics and best sterilization available.
  • There is a remote probabilityof nerve roots injury.
  • In some people, soreness may last for days.
  • A minor headache is sometimes seen.

What is the effectiveness of a discogram?

Risks or complications are rare with highly skilled and qualified doctors who use modern techniques.

Hence, a lumbar discogram is a safe preoperative diagnostic procedure to find out the underlying cause of pain.

Needles do not cause any pain. If pressurization causes familiar pains, then surgery may be advised.