What is a Discogram?
Back pain is frequently evaluated by a discogram, a type of imaging scan that helps doctors identify the exact source of back pain. Discograms are also used to guide physicians during treatment of herniated discs or other degenerative disc disorder. Patients undergoing a discogram will have a contrast material injected into at least one spinal disc so that doctors can clearly see abnormalities on imaging scans.
When Is a Discogram Recommended?
Your Southern Pain Clinic doctor may prescribe a discogram if you have back pain that has not responded to medication, physical therapy or other treatment modalities. Although CT or MRI scans may suggest where back pain is, they do not always accurately identify pain generators that are in their early stages or concealed within networks of nerves, blood vessels and capillaries. In some cases, patients will have multiple abnormalities that appear on an MRI or CT scan. A discogram can tell doctors which disc abnormality is most severe and causing the most pain. This means patients ultimately receive the best treatment available to relieve back pain caused by a disc disorder.
How Is a Discogram Performed?
Depending on the number of discs evaluated, a discogram may take as little as 30 minutes or could last for several hours. Although patients remain awake during the procedure, they are given a light sedative to help them relax. In addition, numbing medication is used to reduce discomfort at the site of the dye injection.
An imaging technique called a fluoroscopy is utilized as the discogram needle enters the patient's body. A fluoroscopy significantly improves the precision and placement of the needle to ensure imaging pictures capture detailed images of abnormal discs. After the dye material is injected, the doctor relies on a CT scan or x-ray to watch the dye spread outward from the injection site.
The dye will remain centralized if a disc is normal and healthy. Alternately, damaged discs show dye extending beyond the middle of the disc. After reviewing images, doctors may ask discogram patients the level of discomfort they felt during the procedure. The sensations felt during dye injections into vertebral discs can aid doctors in developing an effective treatment plan by further pinpointing the source of pain.
Services Provided by the Southern Pain Clinic for Abnormal Discogram Results
Marrero, Metairie and Covington, LA residents who are diagnosed with herniated/bulging/ruptured discs in the back or neck, or other disc disorders have a variety of treatment choices from which to choose at Southern Pain Clinic. Epidural steroid injections relieve back and neck pain rapidly. A long-term pain reliever, epidural steroid injections mimic the effects of hydrocortisone and cortisone by dramatically reducing inflammation of irritated nerve endings. Diagnostic nerve blocks and radiofrequency treatment is another option that offers long-term pain relief from disc disorders. Southern Pain Clinic doctors also recommend this state-of-the-art pain management therapy for peripheral nerve damage, arm pain, leg pain and post-surgery joint pain as an alternative to prescription medications.
To learn more about the discogram procedure or to make an appointment, call the Southern Pain Clinic today.