For all its durability and resilience, the spine is a delicate instrument and when performing an examination or attempting to exact repairs upon it one must take care. Part of the difficulty in determining what sort of work needs to be done on the spine is trying to get a clear view of the problem without causing further harm to the vertebrae or discs. A discogram is one diagnostic procedure that allows your doctor to view the areas of your spine to determine where damage might exist without great risk of causing more and is available at Khavkin Clinic.
Discogram: Getting A Clear View Of Your Discs
There are three major components of your spine, the individual vertebrae, the spinal cord and the canal that contains it, and the discs that protect the vertebrae and provide flexibility while doing so. X-rays are an excellent tool for viewing the bones of the spine, while a myelogram can provide a clear view of the canal the spinal cord is housed in. Unfortunately, neither of these provide a clear view of the disc itself, that’s where the discogram comes in.
A discogram uses a combination of a fluoroscope and a contrast dye to give your doctor a clear look at your disc, allowing them to identify potential damage to the disc and determine if it’s the source of your back pain. The discogram works on two levels: one by providing this clear view, the other by recreating the pain you’ve been experiencing. If the injection doesn’t cause the pain you’re being treated for to flare, the source of your pain lies elsewhere. These two diagnostic methods aid your doctor in knowing how to proceed.
What Is Revealed With A Discogram?
The purpose of the discogram is to determine the structural integrity of the suspect disc. The contrast dye will remain inside a healthy, undamaged disc, but may spread outside that disc is tears or ruptures exist in the disc. The exact cause of your pain and the overall need for surgery are both revealed through this procedure.
Are There Any Risks Associated With A Discogram?
While generally safe there are some potential risks with a discogram, but no more so than with any other standard medical procedure. The largest risk is an allergic reaction to the contrast dye, so be sure to notify your doctor if you’ve experienced any reactions to x-ray contrast dye previously, or have any allergies to medicine at all. Specifically, focus on:
- Any known allergies, especially to shellfish or iodine injections.
- If you’re pregnant.
- Diabetes, Kidney Problems, Asthma, Heart Or Thyroid Conditions.
- Inform your doctor if you’re on any blood thinning medication like aspirin or Coumadin.
In some rare cases, patients have experienced disc space infection, as well as potential nerve root damage. Both of these occur in less than 1/10th of 1% of patients, but be certain to inform your nurse if you notice any swelling, bleeding, or pain. If you have any additional questions or concerns about discograms, contact Dr. Yevgeniy Khavkin for a consultation.