A diagnostic tool known as a discogram is utilized to pinpoint the source of pain in intervertebral discs by deliberately inducing pain symptoms during an x-ray procedure. This creates a comprehensive pain "road map," making it an ideal planning tool for fusion surgery.
Discography is typically reserved for patients who have exhausted all other treatment options, including medications, bed rest, traction, and physical therapy, and who are being considered for lumbar surgery. In addition to identifying abnormalities within discs, discograms have the ability to identify issues within intervertebral discs that may have appeared normal during CT or MRI scans.
When conventional diagnostic methods and treatments have proven ineffective in addressing disabling low back pain, neck pain, and radiation pain in the arms or legs, discography can be a valuable tool. This is especially true when non-invasive imaging techniques like MRI fail to identify any abnormalities consistent with the pain symptoms or to determine the root cause of neck or low back pain. Moreover, discography is particularly useful in diagnosing pain originating from the disc itself (discogenic pain).
DP is a prevalent cause of chronic back pain, comprising roughly 10% of all reported cases of low back pain. Interestingly, discs themselves can be responsible for pain in a significant portion of patients with non-radiating low back pain, ranging from 39% to 65%. Unfortunately, conventional treatments are often ineffective in such cases, and even MRI scans may be unable to identify problematic discs. In these instances, discography is the only viable diagnostic option.
Discography is a quick procedure that usually takes less than an hour and is performed under local anesthesia. During the procedure, you will be asked to lie face down on an operating table, while the region of the painful spinal discs on your back is marked. Under fluoroscopic imaging, a guide needle is inserted and guided to the targeted disc.
A smaller disc needle is then passed through the guide needle and into the center of the disc, where sterile liquid, such as X-ray dye, is injected to increase the pressure within the disc. This process can sometimes reproduce pain symptoms in the patient. In the event that the disc is not the source of pain, the patient may experience either no symptoms or unfamiliar symptoms. To identify the pain source, a group of discs may be tested one at a time, with scans obtained after each disc is pressurized.
In the event that a discogram confirms the presence of pain emanating from a spinal disc, a spinal fusion procedure may be recommended. This procedure involves removing the painful disc and fusing the adjacent vertebrae together, ultimately alleviating the patient's pain.
Neuro Spine & Pain Center takes pride in our innovative, patient-centric approach. We understand that each patient's pain is unique and requires personalized attention. That's why we carefully listen to your concerns and work with you to develop an individualized plan for diagnosing and treating your pain.
We avoid one-size-fits-all solutions for complex medical problems and are committed to providing thorough investigations when necessary. If discography is necessary for your symptoms, we will recommend it. Contact us today to experience our capable, compassionate care that so many Neuro Spine & Pain Center patients rely on.
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