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What is a Discogram?

A discogram is a relatively safe enhanced x-ray examination of the intervertebral discs used to evaluate back pain. Liquid contrast media (dye) is injected into the center of the discs being evaluated. The dye makes the discs clearly visible on x-ray and fluoroscope. A discogram can show if a disc is ruptured or has tears through the annulus, outer ring. This test is usually done prior to surgery to help the surgeon know the location of the problem(s) and the type of surgical intervention needed if any.

What happens during the procedure?

Prior to the injection, you will be asked to sign a consent form. A nurse will check your vital signs, and ask what medications you are currently taking and if you are allergic to any medications. You may be given medication to help you relax. You will lie on your abdomen and side during the procedure. After cleansing your back with a cooling antiseptic, a local anesthetic is applied to numb the area of the back to be tested. This may sting a little. A needle is placed through the skin along the center of the back into the center of the discs. A dye is injected into the disc that allows for a detailed view of it. More than one level is usually tested to determine which levels are normal and which are not. If the test causes pain that is similar to your back or leg pain, it is a good indication that the disc is causing problems. A CT scan is usually performed after the procedure. The procedure takes about 45 minutes. And after an observation period you will be allowed to go home.

How do I prepare for the Discogram:

  • Specially trained personnel with the physician’s office or facility will explain the discogram procedure in detail and answer any questions you may have. Potential complications will be explained and consent will be obtained to perform the procedure.
  • Nothing to eat or drink 6 to 8 hours prior to the procedure.
  • Discontinue all medications beginning after midnight before your procedure. A nurse from either the performing physician’s office or from the facility will contact you a few days prior to the procedure to go over with you what medication you can and cannot take the day of the procedure.
  • Discontinue anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen three days prior to the discogram.
  • Discontinue aspirin products seven days prior to your injection.
  • If on blood thinners such as Coumadin, Plavix or Pradaxa, contact the prescribing physician to stop the medication seven days prior to injection.
  • Come dressed comfortably. Please leave all jewelry and valuables at home.

What do I need to do on the day of the injection?

  • You must have an adult driver with you
  • Make and bring a list of all medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter with you to the injection along with your photo identification and insurance card(s).
  • Plan to arrive one hour prior to your injection time to check-in and register at the facility.

Other than pain, associated symptoms may include weakness, numbness or tingling.

Fortunately, most forms of back pain get better on their own: approximately 50 percent of patients will experience back pain relief within two weeks and 90 percent within three months.

If the pain lasts for more than a few days, is getting worse, does not respond to back pain remedies such as a short period of rest, using ice or heat, lower back pain exercises and over-the-counter pain relievers, then it is usually advisable to see a back doctor.

Drug Information

Anti-inflammatory drugs that need to be stopped 3 days prior to your injection

  • Advil,Ibuprofen, Nuprin, Motrin
  • Naprosyn, Naprelan, Naproxyn, Alleve, anaprox
  • Lodine, Etodolac
  • Orudis, Oruvail, Ketoprofen
  • Ansaid
  • Cataflam, Voltaren, Diclofenac, Arthrotec
  • Feldene, Iroxicam
  • Tolectin, Tomletin
  • Nalfon, Fenoprofen
  • Meclomen, Meclofenamate
  • Daypro, Oxaprozin
  • Clinoril, Sulindac
  • Indocin, Indomethacin
  • Relafen (Nabumetone)
  • Dolobid, Difunisal
  • Ponstel, Mefenamic Acid
  • Toradol, Ketoralac
  • Mobic

Aspirin products to stop taking 7 days prior to your injection:

  • Apsirin, Bufferin, Excedrin, Disalcid, Salsalate, Alka Seltzer Plus, Trisilate
  • Anything that has “salicylic” or “salicylate” on the label

It is alright to continue taking:

  • Celebrex

Bulging Disc

A bulging disc is quite common, and usually remains undetected until the disc bulge comes in contact with adjacent nerves leading to pain and other symptoms.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is not truly a disease, but more of a chain of events that naturally occur as we age. There is no avoiding degenerative disc disease, but you may slow its progress.

Disc Tear

As the outer shell of your disc begins to toughen or dry up, a painful crack or tear could happen. Learn what a disc tear is, and how you can recover from it.

Failed Back & Neck Surgery

There are many reasons why back or neck surgery may provide lackluster results. Bad diagnosis, unskilled surgeon, or improper healing; which is it?

Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet Joint Syndrome refers to the degeneration of the arthritic changes that occur in your facet joints. Age and daily wear and tear are the most common culprits.

Foraminal Stenosis

Foraminal Stenosis describes the narrowing of the foramen. As the foramen narrows, exiting nerves can become compressed causing pain and other symptoms.

Free Pain Quiz

Pain presents itself in many different ways, at different times and in many cases is triggered by specific activities. We will be happy to answer your questions in conjunction with a personal phone call follow up with one of our doctors.

Free MRI Review

Receive a free MRI Review from a top trained spine surgeon in Minimally Invasive and Endoscopic Spine Surgery Techniques