Some patients who experience chronic pain are unable to undergo an MRI scan either because they just completed surgery, contain medical devices in their bodies, or have particular disc abnormalities. In these cases, they may be eligible for a myelography to help diagnose their pain.
Myelography is a method of visualizing a patient’s spine by introducing a needle into the spinal canal. This needle injects a contrast material around the spinal cord itself. The doctor can then view the spine using fluoroscopy, which visualizes the contrast material, making the spinal cord and the surrounding nerve roots visible. This is not a still image. The doctor can observe the progressing visuals to find any abnormalities in structures that may be affected by pain. Computed tomography (CT) scans often follow a myelography to help define any perceived conditions.
When is a Myelography Useful?
A myelography is most often used to find any abnormality that could be harming the spinal canal, spinal cord, blood vessels, or nerve roots. This procedure can show instances of a disc herniation that presses against nerve roots or bone degeneration that narrows the spinal canal and causes bone spurs. Tumors, infection, inflammation, and spinal lesions are also conditions that a doctor can find using myelography.
Your pain specialist will tell you when a myelography is necessary for diagnosing your pain. To prepare for this procedure, you should tell your doctor about any medications you are taking. While instances of patients reacting to the contrast material are rare, if you know of any past cases where you may have experienced an allergic reaction to a similar material you should let your doctor know. Avoid solid foods and drink plenty of water the day before the procedure.
A myelography is often done on an outpatient basis, which means that you will most likely not need a bed or overnight care after the procedure. Many clinics escort patients to a room where they can recover for up to four hours as the doctors analyze the results. Drinking fluids can help patients flush out the contrast material from their body. For the next two days or so, you should avoid any stressful or intense physical activity.
If you need an expert to diagnose your pain in New Jersey, contact the pain doctors at Garden State Pain Center. While myelography is a specific case for diagnosing pain, if it is necessary, our clinic will help you follow through the process.