This diag­nos­tic pro­ce­dure, also called discogram, 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. Discog­ra­phy helps the spe­cial­ist plan a course of treat­ment. In prepa­ra­tion for the pro­ce­dure, the patient lies on the side or stom­ach on a table equipped with a type of x‑ray unit called a flu­o­ro­scope. Med­ica­tion is admin­is­tered through an intra­venous (IV) line to relax the patient. It is impor­tant for the patient to be awake enough to tell the physi­cian what he or she is feel­ing. A local anes­thet­ic is used to numb the skin and all the tis­sue down to the disc area. A guide nee­dle is insert­ed through the anes­thetized track to the out­er edge of the disc. The physi­cian uses the flu­o­ro­scope to iden­ti­fy the tar­get disc. A small­er nee­dle is insert­ed through the guide nee­dle into the cen­ter of the disc. This may be repeat­ed for sev­er­al discs.

Once all the nee­dles are placed, the discs are pres­sur­ized one at a time with injec­tions of con­trast dye. With each injec­tion, the patient may feel either pres­sure or pain. If the patient feels pain, the physi­cian will ask the patient to com­pare it to the pain the patient has been expe­ri­enc­ing. If the pain is the same, this may indi­cate a dis­eased disc. After each disc is test­ed, images are tak­en with the flu­o­ro­scop­ic unit. The nee­dles are removed. The patient may be tak­en for a CT scan to obtain addi­tion­al images of the inside of the discs. Discog­ra­phy usu­al­ly takes less than an hour to per­form. The pro­ce­dure may cause sore­ness for a few days. The patient is usu­al­ly advised to take aceta­minophen or ibupro­fen and to ice the affect­ed area for sev­er­al min­utes each day until the sore­ness subsides.

Click here to review a video illus­tra­tion of Discog­ra­phy.
(Infor­ma­tion obtained from www​.viewmed​ica​.com 2012 Swarm Interactive).