Myelogram

What is an Myelogram?

Myelography is a type of radiographic examination that uses a contrast medium to detect pathology of the spinal cord, including the location of a spinal cord injury, cysts, and tumors. The procedure often involves injection of contrast medium into the cervical or lumbar spine, followed by several X-ray projections. A myelogram may help to find the cause of pain not found by an MRI or CT.

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What should I expect?

Before the test, you will be asked to change into a gown. The radiologist or technologist will discuss the test with you and explain the risks and answer any questions you have.

During the exam, the radiologist and at least one technologist will be in the room with you. You will lie on your belly with a pillow beneath it. After cleaning your back with an antiseptic, the doctor will numb the area to be injected. Once the needle is in place, a contrast material will be injected into the spinal canal then the needle will be removed. You will be taken to the CT scan suite where a CT scan will be done to show details of the area injected. This step helps to show arthritic conditions, herniated or ruptured discs, and other issues you may have in this area of your spine.

After the CT, you will be transferred to a gurney where you will remain on your back, head raised, for 2 hours for observation. After the observation period, you will be released to be driven home.

Once home, you will:

  • Stay in bed or a recliner for 24 hours. DO NOT LIE FLAT. Your head MUST be elevated at least 30 degrees or use 2 firm pillows.
  • Only get up to go to the restroom or to eat
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Call your doctor if a headache, nausea, and/or vomiting begin within 48 hours of the exam. If this does happen, continue to elevate head and do not lie flat.

If none of the above symptoms occur, resume normal activities 24 hours after the exam.

What can I do to prepare?

If your doctor orders a myelogram, an exam requiring a needle to be inserted into the spinal canal followed by a contrast injection, there are some preparations necessary prior to your arrival. There are certain medications that may interfere with the dye used in the test:

  • You will need to discontinue aspirin, blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin) and clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix), antidepressants, and Glucophage seven days prior to the exam.
  • You should drink as much liquid as possible up to midnight the day before your myelogram.
  • You should not eat anything after midnight.
  • You should make arrangements to have someone stay with you while at the imaging facility and to drive you to and from the imaging facility. You will NOT be able or allowed to drive yourself home.