Myelography is an x-ray test used to diagnose a wide range of diseases affecting the spine, spinal cord, and nerve roots. A radiologist will perform the procedure.
How do I prepare for a myelogram?
- Certain medications, such as anti-depressants or some medications for pain and nausea need to be stopped 48 hours before the procedure. Ask your physician or call the radiology nurses in the interventional radiology department.
- The day of your procedure, we ask that you do not eat solid food for three hours before the test. However, you are encouraged to drink clear liquids (clear juices or water) before your myelogram. You may take your regular medications as prescribed unless it is an anti-coagulants.
- Patients may receive a mild sedative. You will need to arrange for a family member or a friend to drive you home following the exam.
- Notify you physician if you have ever had an allergic reaction to the contrast (x-ray dye) or iodine.
What should I expect?
- The nurses will go over a lot of questions with you and will explain the procedure along with the risk and complications. They will then ask you to sign a consent form for the procedure.
- The technologist will ask you to lie on your abdomen on the myelographic table.
- An area of your back or neck will be cleaned with an antiseptic which may feel cool.
- The radiologist will then inject a local anesthetic to numb a small area of your skin.
- Using x-ray (fluoroscopy) guidance, the radiologist will then place the spinal needle into the spinal fluid bathing the spinal cord and inject the contrast dye through a small needle into your spinal fluid. The contrast may be injected either in the lower back or the upper side of the neck. After injecting the contrast dye, the spinal needle is removed. A bandaid is applied. X-rays are taken as the contrast outlines the spinal cord and nerves. As you are lying on the table, the table may be tilted. This is done so the contrast will move upward or downward.
- After x-ray films of the spinal region are taken, the patient is prepared for a CT scan of the spine.
- After the myelogram is complete, you will remain in the radiology nursing area where you will rest for 4 hours.
- After returning home, for four to six hours you must remain in bed with your head raised. You may roll from side to side, but it is best not to sit straight up. Do not lie flat.
- Most common side effects are headache and nausea, these symptoms are usually mild and temporary.
- You should rest in a sitting or reclining position for the rest of the day, avoiding strenuous activity.
- After the procedure, your physician will receive a copy of your report within 24 to 48 hours, and he or she will be the one to give you the test results.