The discs of the spine may develop tears in the outside lining that holds the spongy, shock absorber part of the disc inside. The disc may then become painful causing pain due to nerves that grow into the disc where there should be none. Movement then causes severe back pain due to these new nerves being compressed. These tears in the disc (called annular tears) may be present due to disc degeneration or trauma. Discography is a highly refined diagnostic test used to determine if there is one or more than one disc producing pain. It is a test to help your surgeon or pain physician to choose options for further treatment.
WHAT IS LUMBAR DISCOGRAPHY (Discogram)? Discography, also known as disc stimulation, involves x-ray guided (fluoroscopic) placement of several needles into the discs of the spine. Depending on the Centeral situation, the patient may receive mild intravenous sedation prior to needle placement, then after needle placement is complete, each disc is sequentially injected with iodine containing contrast under fluoroscope x-ray views. The contrast pattern is evaluated from the x-ray images, but more importantly, the patient is questioned about the location, severity, and character of pain produced during the injection compared to the normal every day pain experienced. Normal discs do not hurt significantly during the injection. Since not all annular tears seen on MRI cause pain, discography is the only way to determine pain producing discs. After the injection is complete, the needles are removed. In some cases a CT scan will be performed shortly after the discography if needed.
DO THE INJECTIONS HURT? The point of the procedure is to reproduce the normal daily pain. During the injection, a second type of pain (due to the needles themselves) is usually felt to the right or left of the spine depending on the location of the needles, but this type of pain is different than the usual pain.
RISKS: bleeding, infection of the disc space, nerve injury, spinal cord injury, spinal headache, abscess or blood clots, paralysis are all rare risks that you should discuss with your physician prior to the procedure
SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE THE PROCEDURE:
If any sedatives are to be administered, then you should not eat or drink after midnight on day of the procedure unless otherwise instructed. DO TAKE ALL OTHER USUAL MEDICATIONS WITH SMALL AMOUNTS OF WATER ON THE DAY OF THE PROCEDURE EXCEPT THE MEDICINES BELOW THAT SHOULD BE STOPPED SEVERAL DAYS IN ADVANCE OF THE PROCEDURE You will need a driver afterwards that can stay in our lobby during the entire time you are in our facility.
MEDIATIONS TO STOP BEFORE THE PROCEDURE: Stop Plavix 7 days before the procedure. Stop Ticlid (ticlopidine) 14 days before the procedure. Stop coumadin/warfarin 4 days before the procedure.
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