Diagnostic Discography

Diagnostic discography, also known as discogram, is an advanced medical imaging technique that involves injecting a dye into the intervertebral discs of the spine to identify the source of back pain. This test helps physicians visualize and assess the integrity of the discs, pinpointing damaged areas that may be causing discomfort.

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Conditions Discography Looks For:

  • Sciatica: Sciatica is characterized by pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which extends from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg. A discogram can help determine if a herniated or bulging disc is pressing against the nerve, causing this radiating pain. 
  • Disc Abnormalities: Disc abnormalities such as herniations, bulges, or degenerations can be the culprits behind severe back pain. Discography is designed to identify these abnormalities by highlighting changes in the structure and integrity of the discs. 
  • Structural Abnormalities: Beyond the discs, other structural irregularities within the spine—like facet joint issues or spinal stenosis—can lead to discomfort. By focusing on the discs, discography can either confirm or rule out disc-related issues, allowing for a clearer diagnosis. 
  • Severe or Inconsistent Symptoms: When a patient’s symptoms don’t align with typical back pain patterns or are exceptionally severe, discography can offer insights. By pinpointing the exact disc or discs causing pain, it provides a clearer picture of what might be happening within the spine. 
  • Disease and Pain Levels: Certain diseases, such as degenerative disc disease, can affect the health and functionality of the discs. A discogram can quantify the pain levels corresponding to specific discs, aiding in both diagnosis and subsequent treatment planning. 
  • Causes of Back Pain: Back pain can arise from a myriad of sources, from poor posture to trauma to underlying conditions. Diagnostic discography is a tool in the physician’s arsenal to delve deeper, providing a visual assessment of the discs and helping identify the root cause of the pain. 

Why Lonseth Interventional Pain Centers?

When it comes to entrusting someone with your health, especially for specialized procedures like diagnostic discography, Lonseth Interventional Pain Centers stand out as the clear choice. Our New Orleans team boasts a combination of seasoned expertise, state-of-the-art equipment, and a patient-centric approach. We understand the complexities and nuances of back pain, ensuring that each procedure is conducted with utmost precision and care. Beyond the technical aspects, we pride ourselves on our compassionate approach, ensuring that each patient feels heard, understood, and confident in the care they receive. Choose Lonseth for a seamless experience that prioritizes your well-being and peace of mind. 

Diagnostic Discography FAQ

No, a discogram is not a surgical procedure. It’s a diagnostic test where a dye is injected into the intervertebral discs of the spine to help identify potential sources of back pain. While it does involve needle insertion, it is minimally invasive and does not require surgical incisions or general anesthesia.

The pain experienced during a discogram varies from person to person. Some patients may feel discomfort or pressure when the dye is injected, especially if the disc being tested is the source of pain. The procedure itself is typically performed under local anesthesia to minimize discomfort, and sedation may be offered to help the patient relax. Any pain or discomfort experienced is usually brief and is closely monitored by the medical team.

A discogram and an MRI are both imaging tests, but they serve different purposes and use different methods. An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the body’s internal structures, including the spine. It is non-invasive and can show the soft tissues, nerves, and bone structures. A discogram, on the other hand, is a more specialized test that uses dye injection to pinpoint specific discs causing pain. While an MRI provides a general view of spinal health, a discogram is focused on assessing the health and integrity of individual discs.

While a discogram is generally considered safe, as with any medical procedure, there are potential risks. These may include infection at the injection site, discitis (inflammation of the intervertebral disc), allergic reaction to the dye, bleeding, or nerve damage. It’s important to discuss any concerns with your physician, who will weigh the benefits against potential risks.

Preparation for a discogram may vary based on the specific guidance of your healthcare provider. Generally, patients are advised to refrain from eating or drinking for several hours before the procedure. Any medications being taken should be discussed with the physician, as some may need to be temporarily discontinued. Always communicate any allergies, especially to contrast dyes, and any underlying health conditions to the medical team. Comfortable clothing is recommended, and you may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure. Make arrangements for someone to drive you home afterward, especially if sedation is administered.