What is a discogram?
This test is used to determine which disc has structural damage and whether it is causing pain. A discogram can show if a disc has begun to rupture and if it has tears in the tough outer ring, or the annulus. By injecting fluid into the disc to increase pressure, the doctor can tell if it is painful. This type of structural damage is a primary cause of pain within a damaged disc. Normal discs, and even those that are severely degenerated, do not usually cause pain. This test is usually done prior to surgery to help the doctor know the location of the problem and the type of operation needed.

How is this procedure done?
ou will be given medication to help you relax. A local anesthetic is applied to numb the area of the back to be tested. A needle is inserted from the back, and into the nucleus pulpsus, the very center of the intervertebral disc. A fluoroscope makes it possible for a doctor to see on the screen your spine and the needle as it moves. The doctor watches the screen as the needle is inserted to make sure it goes into the correct disc space. Once the needle is inside the disc, a small amount of fluid is injected to cause an increase in pressure. More than one level is tested to determine which levels are normal. If this test causes pain that is similar to your back or leg pain, it is a good indication that the disc is causing problems. Dye is inserted into the disc, and a CT scan is done to see a cross section of the disc. The procedure lasts about 40 minutes.

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