Discography is a very specific tool that allows interventional pain management doctor to see a disc’s internal structure and determine whether or not it is the source of pain. This procedure is done only after other tests have proven to be inconclusive in pinpointing the source of pain. Discography is an invasive procedure and it involves putting needles into the vertebral disc. The injection procedure generally takes about 30 to 45 minutes. After the disc injections, you may be kept for observation for 30 minutes or more.
A patient who is a good candidate for discography is one who has been experiencing persistent spinal pain, is suspected of having a disc abnormality and has had non-invasive tests that proved inconclusive. The patient must be willing to undergo discogram procedure treatment directed at the disc.
Before the Procedure
- Insert a thin needle into your back, next to your spine, and inject anesthetic
- Insert a second needle on the other side of your spine
- Inject dye to confirm that medication will go to the correct spot
- Inject pain medication, such as epinephrine, clonidine or steroid; alcohol or phenol also may be injected to destroy the nerves
- Usually, the procedure takes less than 30 minutes, and you can go home the same day.
During the Procedure
- IV and a local anesthesia applied to the skin to help you relax
- Dye is injected which makes the disc’s structure more visible on an x-ray monitor. Through this, the doctor is able to see whether or not the disc is torn, bulging, leaking or otherwise damaged.
After the Procedure
- After the disc injections, you may be kept for observation for 30 minutes or more. It is advisable that you have someone drive you home
- In some cases, pain from the injection can persist for several hours. There may be some residual muscle pain from passing the needles. If you experience intense pain, call your healthcare provider.