Discography is an injection technique used to evaluate patients with back pain who have not responded to extensive conservative, nonsurgical treatments such as medication and physical therapy. Discography can be used to determine if your back pain could be caused by an abnormal disk in your spine. It is also commonly used for surgical planning prior to a lumbar fusion. Lumbar discography is considered for patients who, despite extensive conservative treatment, have disabling lower back pain, groin pain, hip pain, and/or leg pain.
During a discogram, dye is injected into the soft center of the disk. If the dye stays in the center of the disk, the disk is normal. If the dye spreads outside the center of the disk, it means that the disk is damaged. If the disk is the source of the back pain, pain during the injection will be similar to the back pain that the patient is experiencing day to day. The procedure takes between 30 and 60 minutes.
Both the images taken during the discogram and the information about any pain experienced during the procedure will be taken into account to direct treatment. Typically results of a discogram are combined with the results of other tests to determine a treatment plan for back pain.