Discogram

Discogram.A discogram is a special procedure used to determine whether a suspected disc is causing back or leg pain.

A special dye is injected into the disc and X-rays are taken to look at the disc.

This gives the physician information about the disc so he/she can determine if a suspected disc is causing the pain.

The back is a complex structure and it is not always clear what is causing the pain. The discogram helps the physician identify the problem and develop a plan to treat the pain.

Sometimes a patient has more than one abnormal disc on an MRI, however that doesn't mean the abnormal discs are causing pain.

Discograms help us know which discs are causing pain and which discs are abnormal but do not cause symptoms. 

  1. A nurse will call you several days before the procedure to review the procedure and give specific instructions.
  2. You will check in at the Same Day Surgery on the third floor of Location B unless otherwise instructed.
  3. Your child will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  4. After the admission process is complete and your child’s history has been reviewed, your child will be taken to a procedure room.
  5. Monitors will be placed on your child.
  6. A peripheral IV will be placed to provide anesthesia to your child for the procedure.
  7. Your child will be given oxygen through a nasal cannula.
  8. Your child's skin will be cleaned with special soap (iodine), and the local anesthetic (numbing medicine) will be placed using a tiny needle.
  9. Most patients lie on their stomach during the procedure.
  10. X-rays are used to guide the needle into the disc.
  11. Your child will be woken up so the physician can attempt to re-create his or her typical back pain.
  12. X-ray dye is injected into the disc so the physician can determine if it is abnormal.
  13. Antibiotic solution is injected into the disc at the end of the procedure, to help prevent infection.
  14. After the procedure is complete, your child will be brought to the Radiology Department for CT imaging. Following the CT, your child will be brought to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU).
  15. Your child will be discharged with follow-up instructions.

A discogram is an invasive procedure and does have some risks.

Rare complications include but are not limited to, bleeding, infection, nerve damage and headache. Discitis, or an infection of the disc, is also a potential complication. If this occurs patients may need to have the infected disc removed and will need to be treated with intravenous antibiotics.

To minimize complications, the procedure is done under sterile conditions and we inject the disc with an antibiotic after the procedure. Your child will also receive a dose of intravenous antibiotics prior to the procedure.

You may find that your child's pain gets worse initially. His/her physician may order a small amount of pain medication for the first two days until the injected medication begins to work. This occurs because placing a needle into irritated muscle and discs has the potential to cause more irritation.

Your child's pain should begin to decrease approximately two days after the injection. Approximately three days after the injection, an advance practice nurse will call to see how your child is doing. You can call us for questions or concerns, 513-636-7891.

Your child should not participate in any contact sports until advised by his/her doctor.

  • Fever
  • Increased back pain
  • Redness or swelling at the injection site

Last Updated 09/2013