A Myelogram is ordered by your physician to delineate some of the structures within your spinal canal. It uses X-ray and a contrast media (dye) to visualize the spinal canal, spinal cord and nerves. Even though MRI technology is used more commonly, the Myelogram provides information that may be different than an MRI. Diseases that can be diagnosed with the Myelogram include disc problems, postoperative scarring, narrowing of the spinal canal (Spinal Stenosis), Spinal tumors, and inflammation.
Prior to the procedure, an IV will be placed by the staff and a mild sedative may be administered for patient comfort. The skin is numbed with an anesthetic solution and a larger needle is then placed into the spinal canal penetrating the envelope (dura) of the spinal cord. The dye is then injected and a series of X-rays are performed. Commonly a CT scan is performed to enhance visualization of the spinal elements. Any indentation in the dura or the nerve root will be visualized on the X-rays or the CT scan. The advantage of the Myelogram is the direct visualization of the indentations of the area in question.
Please inform your physician if you are pregnant, think you might be, or you are breast feeding.
- Inform him of any allergies you may have (X-ray dye or Iodine), seizure disorder, or the use of any antidepressant or anticoagulant (blood thinners) medications.
- Make arrangements to be taken home after the procedure. Driving is not permitted for two days after the procedure.
- Avoid any alcoholic beverages 2 days before and after the procedure.
- You may eat a light breakfast and drink prior to the procedure
- You must remain in bed the day of the procedure and the following day after the procedure.
- Your head should be raised 30 degrees from flat position. Avoid laying flat by using 3 pillows in propping your head.
- Continue taking your regular medications.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of liquids every day for 2 days.
Most common side affects from the procedure include: headaches, nausea, dizziness, and tightness in the back of the neck, shoulders, or lower back. Itching around the puncture area may also occur. Some patients may complain of headaches that last for several days. This may be caused by changes in the pressure of the Cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord or by a reaction to the contrast medial. This condition usually resolves on its own with bed rest and oral fluid intake. In rare instances these headaches may be persistent and sever enough that other procedures become necessary to resolve these headaches. In almost all instances this complication eventually resolves. Other complications include rarely infections from penetration of the needle. Inform your physician if you experience these problems for further evaluation and possible blood patch procedure.
As with every test, risks, benefits, and alternatives should be evaluated. The benefits of the procedure must outweigh the risks and the results should carefully be evaluated by your spine surgeon.