OHSU

Discography

Overview

Discography is an important test to diagnose back pain, but does not treat back pain.

Your  doctor uses discography to find out if your neck or back pain is caused by damaged spinal discs between the vertebrae (back bones).

The doctor places a small needle in the spinal discs, using a special type of X-ray to guide the needle. He or she injects a medicine that is visible on the X-ray. If a disc regularly causes your pain, the injection should cause the same pain. The doctor uses this information to tell which disc is causing your pain and how to treat it. You might also have other tests, such as X-rays or a CT scan.

This procedure is done on an outpatient basis, with no overnight hospital stay. Your doctor gives you sedation, medicine to make you relax and minimize discomfort. Your pain might get worse for a few days or a week after discography. Your doctor may give you pain medication to relieve this pain.

If you have discography, you should not eat before the procedure. You need someone to take you home afterwards.