Discography Treatment; Its Value In Diagnosis And Treatment Of Back Pain

Discography treatment is an injection technique used to evaluate patients with back pain who have not responded to extensive conservative or nonsurgical care regimens. The most common use of discography technique is for surgical planning prior to a lumbar fusion.

A discography treatment uses imaging guidance to direct an injection of contrast material into the center of one or more spinal discs (dependent on the pain) to help identify the source of back pain. This treatment is also used to help guide the treatment of abnormal intervertebral discs (sponge-like cushions) located between the vertebrae of the spine.

How is the procedure performed?

The procedure of discography treatment has following steps;

  • The physician will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm so that sedative medication can be given intravenously.
  • You must be awake during the procedure in order to communicate any of the symptoms that you will be experiencing during the test.
  • Your physician will numb the required area with a local anesthetic.
  • The physician will then insert a needle through your skin guided by real time x-ray imaging into the center of the disc being examined. Once the needle is inside the disc, a contrast material is injected and the needle is removed.
  • If the injected disc is the source of your back pain, you may feel pain similar to what you experience on a daily basis.
  • This procedure is usually completed within an hour, depending on how many disc levels your doctor wants to evaluate.

Benefits of discography technique

Discography treatment offers you following benefits;

  • A discogram assesses that a specific intervertebral disc is involved in causing your back pain symptoms.
  • No radiation remains in a patient’s body after the treatment.
  • X-rays which are using usually have no side effects.
  • CT scanning is also painless, accurate and noninvasive.
  • A major advantage which CT is providing is its ability to image bone, soft tissue and blood vessels all at the same time.
  • CT scanning provides very detailed images of many types of tissue as well as the lungs, bones and blood vessels which conventional x-rays failed to provide.

Risks of the procedure

A discography treatment is generally a safe procedure. However, there are risks of some complications:

  • Infection of the injected discs
  • Temporary worsening of chronic back pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Injury to nerves or blood vessels in and around the spine
  • Bleeding
  • temporary numbness or weakness
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis

Zaki Anwar MD is an Anesthesiologist and Interventional Pain Management Specialist. He has great expertise for the diagnosis and treatment of back pain, headaches, migraines, neck pain, sciatica pain and various pain conditions. His center has offering various treatment options including stem cell therapy, amniotic fluid injection and much more.

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