FAQ’s on Lumbar Discography
What is Lumbar Discography?
For patients who are suffering from back pain in their lower lumbar region, a lumbar discogram can serve a very important diagnostic function. A discogram is a form of imaging technique that will allow the physician to examine the spine in a search for damage. Through this method, a physician is able to examine and identify if the patient’s intervertebral discs are the primary source of the pain, or if the pain is being caused by another condition in the back.
What will a Lumbar Discogram treat?
Lumbar discography is not a treatment in itself, merely a diagnostic tool. However: It is the first step patients must undergo before treatment can begin, as this discogram can reveal exactly where the damage is on the spine, as well as the severity of the damage. This lets the attending physician develop a suitable treatment plan for you in order for them to obtain relief based on what the discogram reveals.
The procedure is performed with the patient under local anesthetic. Full sedation is not a valid option, as the patient has to be partially aware during the procedure in order to answer questions the physician will ask concerning their symptoms. Patients are placed in a prone position to provide access to the spine, and fluoroscopic imaging will be used to guide the placement of the needles into the body.
The areas above the discs in question will be completely numbed before a catheter is gently inserted into the discs. Through this, contrast will be injected into the discs which will allow them to be visible on an X-ray. The physician will use this new X-ray to evaluate the discs for potential damage. It is not uncommon for multiple discs to be dyed at once to ensure the cause is found. While this procedure is lengthy and complex, the patient will be constantly monitored to ensure both that they are pain free and that they are comfortable.
Although the patient is awake during the procedure, there is no sensation felt when dye is injected into a healthy disc. If the dye is placed into a damaged disc however, there may be a feeling of pain in similar levels to what the patient was feeling as symptoms before the procedure. It is very important for the patient to remain in communication with the physician in order to convey what is being felt, where it is being felt, and if the pain being felt is new or similar to previous symptoms.
Through the injection of dye into the discs to make them visible on an X-ray, a physician is able to examine the discs of the spine for damage. Between this imaging and questioning the patient during the disc evaluation, many patients are able to obtain a complete and accurate diagnostic with this discogram. The accuracy of the discogram will depend entirely on the skill of the administering physician and the responses given by the patient during examination.
What are the risks of a Lumbar Discogram?
There is little to no risk with this procedure. There is the ever present chance of pain at the injection site or allergic reaction to the agents used, and a small risk of inflammation at the injection site as well.In very rare cases, a nerve root may be disturbed by the needle resulting in pain felt along the spine. If this occurs, medication will be given to the patient and the condition will pass naturally within a few days.
How accurate are the outcomes with Lumbar Discograms?
Patients should only opt to undergo this procedure if they have had needle-based procedures in the past. This is to ensure they will not have an adverse reaction mid-procedure, which can result in serious spinal damage. Those who choose to receive this procedure, and who are able to answer the questions of the physician accurately, will be able to obtain an accurate diagnostic of their spinal discs.
A lumbar discogram can effectively diagnose the root cause of chronic back pain if conservative treatments have not helped you so far. Call the California Pain Network today to get connected with the best pain management San Diego offers for discograms!