A myelogram is an imaging test in which contrast dye is injected directly into the spinal canal in order to better reveal spine problems on an X-ray or CT scan. It is used primarily when an MRI or CT scan alone does not reveal enough information about the cause of neck pain or back pain. However, as MRI and CT scan technology have improved, the use of a myelogram has become less common.

Because a myelogram is an invasive procedure, there is slightly more patient risk than with a CT scan or MRI alone. One potential side effect is a “spinal headache,” which can occur in the hours immediately after the test if fluid leaks from the injection spot. Patients who have had migraines in the past are more susceptible to headaches following a myelogram. The problem usually can be solved with a “blood patch,” which is an infusion of a patient’s blood into the original injection spot.

Most patients experience only mild discomfort, normally associated with tenderness in the skin around the point of injection. The contrast dye can be absorbed by the body in a few days, or it can be withdrawn intravenously after the myelogram is complete.

When the dye has spread throughout the spine, a medical professional can use the X-ray or CT scan image to locate the source of neck or back pain. Conditions that can be detected through the use of a myelogram include:

If you are diagnosed with one or more of these spinal conditions, your physician will suggest treatment options based on the severity of your neck or back pain and on your level of mobility. Many spinal problems can be treated non-surgically, using conservative methods such as physical therapy or pain medicine.

If neck or back pain persists, or if a lack of mobility has begun to affect your quality of life, your physician might present surgery as an option. If that happens, let the experts at Laser Spine Institute show you how our minimally invasive techniques can help you find relief from neck and back pain. Contact Laser Spine Institute for your MRI or CT scan review and to learn more about our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures.