A discogram is a diagnostic test performed to view and assess the internal structure of a disc and determine if it is a source of pain.

This procedure will diagnose a disc injury which may be the cause of your ongoing pain. It also will help determine if you are suitable candidate for disc surgery. A small amount of intravenous medication will be administered as a relaxant and pain reliever and local anesthetic is injected in the area that is being examined. A needle is inserted through a previously placed needle in the skin and into the disc under fluoroscopy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Provocative Discogram

Who will perform the discogram?
The procedure is performed by a pain medicine specialist trained in chronic pain therapy and assisted by a licensed radiological technologist and a licensed registered nurse.

How long does it take?
It will take from one to two hours including recovery time.

What should I expect?
You will be dressed in a gown and have a IV started. You will be then taken to the procedure room and positioned on your stomach with pillows underneath. You will be asked to lay very still and quiet during the placement of the needles. Once the needles are in place we will start to inject the dye and antibiotic solution.

Will it work immediately?
No, a discogram will not relieve your pain. This is a diagnostic, not a therapeutic procedure. Our goal is to locate the source of your pain by reproducing it entirely.

How should I prepare for the injection?
You may eat lightly before the procedure. ARRANGE FOR A DRIVER TO TAKE YOU HOME. Your procedure will be rescheduled if you do not have a driver; Notify the nurse if you are taking blood thinner, Aspirin or an anti-inflammatory; or have an infection or are sick. You will have to get approval from the doctor who ordered the blood thinner to stop taking the medication three days in advance for Coumadin, seven days for Aspirin, and four days for anti-inflammatories or Plavix. Blood will need to be drawn prior to procedure to make sure it is not too thin. You may take your routine medication the day of the procedure (heart, diabetes, blood pressure). Expect to be at the office one to three hours. This includes registration, paperwork, review of consent, procedure, recovery and review of discharge instructions.

When you start to feel some discomfort, you will be asked to respond with only one of the following statements:

  1. The pain is identical to my usual pain;
  2. The pain is not identical to my usual pain;
  3. I feel pressure, not pain.

Depending on your answer, we’ll decide if the procedure is over or we need to continue. Once the procedure ends you will be given a pain reliever through IV, then sent to the hospital for a CT scan. This will give us images of the dye distribution and show any tears, scarring and degeneration of the disc.

Discography (also called a discogram) is a diagnostic procedure used to determine if one or more discs are the cause of back pain. Watch Video