Monarch Pain Management
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Diagnostic Discogram

spinal disc

A diagnostic discogram or discography for sciatica and back pain is a diagnostic procedure that essentially involves injecting a contrast agent into the disc apparently responsible for your back pain. Once injected, the contrast agent pressurizes the disc from the inside and triggers the painful symptom. By using medical imaging like X-rays or CT scans performed simultaneously, the contrast agent successfully captures the anatomy of a damaged disc.

This procedure is conducted by Monarch Pain Management’s team of anesthesiologists, physiatrists, and radiologists with specialized training in spinal pain diagnosis through minimally invasive procedures. You may feel some kind of discomfort or pain, but it won’t be unbearable. You should communicate every stimulation that you are experiencing throughout the process to make the diagnosis as accurate as possible. When pain during the test is closest to the one you experience during the usual routine, the test is positive.


We usually advise a diagnostic discogram after several failed attempts of traditional, non-surgical treatments providing relief from back pain or sciatica before the option of surgery is finalized.

The procedure of diagnostic discogram is performed as an outpatient procedure. It usually takes an hour, and you can return home the same day. It starts by making you lie on your side or stomach. An IV line of medication with antibiotics is inserted to avoid infection in spinal tissues and discs. No sedation is involved; however, mild sedation can be given if you are not comfortable.


Wondering how Diagnostic Discogram is performed?

The skin area over the injection site is cleaned, and by using a CT scan or X-ray, a sterile needed is injected toward the disc. Once the needle touches the disc’s outer layer, a smaller needle is inserted through the first needle and moved into the disc’s core. A contrast agent is injected through the smaller needle to pressurize the disc. At this time, your responses are duly noted, which may include the following:

  • Pain that is different from the everyday pain the patient feels, depicting that the pressurized disc is not the damaged one
  • Pain that is similar to the everyday pain the patient feels, depicting that the pressurized disc is the damaged one


Once the pressure is built on the disc and your responses are noted, a fluoroscopic unit takes images of the disc, and then the needles are retracted. For an accurate diagnosis, the procedure may be repeated.

Risks associated with diagnostic discograms are rare, however, some are there including injury of nerves or spinal cord or any allergic reactions, disc infection, spinal headache, among other. Diagnostic discogram can be helpful in locating the accurate disc responsible for the pain and establishing the foundation for the needed surgery for permanent treatment of sciatica or back pain. 


Get Help from Monarch Pain Management

Monarch Pain Management is all set to help patients with chronic body pains. Dr. Aaron is authorized under the American Society of Regional Anesthesiologists. He has a wide idea of how to effectively and successfully treat complex pain issues.

Anyone who has been suffering from chronic pains can contact us for help.

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