This is an imaging test that uses a special contrast material to view the spinal cord. The contrast material used in the
can help your doctor clearly outline the space containing the spinal cord and nerves.
Reasons for Procedure
This is used to detect problems in and around the spinal cord such as:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Short-term numbness of the legs or lower back pain
Allergic reaction to the contrast
Inflamed or infected spinal cord
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
Physical exam and medical history
Ask if you are pregnant—this test is not usually done on women who are pregnant
Ask about your medical history
Determine if you have any allergies
Leading up to your procedure:
The night before, do not eat solid foods after midnight. You should continue to drink liquids.
If your doctor prescribes a sedative:
Arrange to have someone drive you home. Also, arrange for someone to help you at home.
Take the sedative before the exam as directed by your doctor.
You may have to stop certain medications up to a week before the procedure.
There is usually no anesthesia with this procedure. Your doctor may give you a mild sedative. You will have local anesthetic to reduce the pain of the needle.
Description of the Procedure
You will lie on your side or face down or you may sit on the edge of a table leaning forward. You may be given a local anesthetic injection in your back.
Your doctor will insert a needle into the space between your vertebrae. A small amount of fluid will be removed from the spinal canal. Next, the contrast will be injected through the needle. Your doctor will use an imaging procedure called fluoroscopy. This combines an x-ray unit with a camera and a screen.
To take the images, you will be positioned stomach-down on the table. A brace will be against your shoulders. The table will be tipped forward. Next, the doctor will take images of your back. You will hold your breath while the images are taken. You may be asked to turn slightly to one side and then the other.
Often, your doctor will perform a
after myelography. This is to see the spread of the contrast dye.
Myelogram. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/orthopaedic/myelogram_92,P07670. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Myelography. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=myelography&bhcp=1. Updated January 23, 2017. Accessed December 18, 2017
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