A myelogram is one invasive diagnostic test that uses x-rays to research the spinal canal. A one-of-a-kind dye is injected right into the spinal canal through a hole needle. An x-ray fluoroscope then records the images formed by the dye. Myelograms have the right to show conditions affecting the spinal cord and nerves within the spinal canal.

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How walk a myelogram work?

Regular x-rays the the spine only offer a clear snapshot of bones. The dye (contrast agent) supplied in a myelogram shows up white ~ above the x-ray allowing the physician to see the spinal cord, exiting nerves, and also canal in detail. The medical professional inserts a hollow needle through your skin right into the spinal canal. The dye is injected into the space surrounding the spinal cord and nerve roots (Fig. 1). This dye is radiopaque, definition it’s impenetrable by x-ray. Then x-rays and/or a CT scan room done (Fig. 2). The scan deserve to see well details and also can tell her doctor exactly how your bones are affecting your nerves.

figure 1. A needle is inserted in the subarachnoid space to inject the contrast dye.
figure 2. The comparison dye renders the spinal canal clearly visible on one x-ray (left). Stenosis and scoliosis can be checked out compressing the spinal nerves ~ above the CT scan (right).

What go a myelogram show?

A myelogram deserve to detect problems affecting the spinal cord and also nerves within the spinal canal, including disc herniations, bone spurs, spinal stenosis, tumors, and also infection.

Who performs the test?

A radiologist will execute the test in the radiology room of the hospital or in ~ an outpatient imaging center.

How need to I prepare because that the test?

There are certain medications, including yet not restricted to, aspirin, blood thinners such together warfarin (Coumadin) and also clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix), antidepressants, and also Glucophage because that diabetes that may interfere with the dye offered in the test. You will have to discontinue these medications several days prior to the date of the test. Girlfriend should contact your doctor’s office when your appointment is booked to talk about your medications. Castle will give you certain instructions for taking your drugs on the day of the myelogram.

Drink as much liquid as possible up come midnight the day before your myelogram carry out NOT EAT ANYTHING after MIDNIGHT (diabetics may have various instructions) make arrangements to have actually someone remain with you while in the hospital and to drive you to and also from the hospital. You will certainly not be able to drive yourself home.

Before the test, you will be inquiry to change into a hospital gown. An intravenous (IV) line might be placed in her arm. The radiologist or nurse will comment on the test v you, describe the risks, answer any questions, and also have you sign consent forms.

What happens throughout the test?

Step 1: prepare the patient A doctor and also at least one technician will be in the room. You will certainly lie on her stomach v a pillow in ~ it. After cleaning your ago with a cooling antiseptic, the physician will numb the area the your back where the needle will be inserted. This may cause some brief stinging.

Step 2: insert the needle into the spinal canal Next, a slender, hole needle is put into her spinal canal to draw out part cerebrospinal fluid for testing. The comparison dye is inserted into the spinal canal with the hole needle. Friend will probably only feel pressure, despite some world feel a sharp stinging sensation. Let your doctor know if you space feeling pain.

Step 3: take X-ray pictures after ~ the dye is injected you will certainly lie on her stomach with a pillow under her abdomen. The table may be tilted to move the contrast dye through your spinal canal and also X-ray pictures will it is in taken of her back. In ~ this point you must remain an extremely still so that the x-ray images will not be blurred. Many patients will have a CT scan complying with the myelogram.

What wake up after the test?

After the x-rays and also CT scans have actually been taken, you will be taken earlier to a room and also observed for 4-8 hrs with her head raised. Execute NOT lie flat. When the physician releases you, a girlfriend or family members member might drive friend home.

Discharge instructions

remain in bed because that 24 hours after her myelogram. Execute not
lie flat. Instead, elevate the head of your bed 30 levels or use 2 pillows. You may acquire up for short periods (e.g., for the bathroom and meals). Drink many fluids for 18 hours, at least 8 ounces every 2 hrs while awake. If possible, drink caffeinated beverages, which produce a diuretic effect, causing increased urination and also thus eliminating the dye used throughout the myelogram. If her headache, nausea, or vomiting persists after 48 hrs of bed rest, call your doctor. In general, you can resume normal tasks the following day.

What are the risks?

A CT scan is for sure for most people, though pregnant women shouldn’t have actually one.

Be sure to tell the doctor if you space pregnant or have a history of allergies (to medications, previous iodine injections, or shellfish), diabetes, asthma, a love condition, kidney problems, or thyroid conditions. Likewise tell lock if friend take any kind of blood thinning medicine such together aspirin, Plavix, or Coumadin.

About 5% come 10% the patients experience side results caused by the dye that incorporate headache, nausea, and also vomiting. However, this side results should not be severe.

How execute I acquire the test results?

The radiologist will certainly promptly review your images and also communicate straight with her referring doctor, who subsequently will talk about the results with you.

Sources & links

If girlfriend have more questions about this diagnostic test, contact the doctor that ordered the check or visit RadiologyInfo.org.


contrast agent: a fluid (usually iodine or gadolinium) that is injected right into your body to make certain tissues show up plainly during diagnostic imaging (angiography, CT, myelogram, MRI).

iodine: a no metallic element used in contrast agent that makes vessels and tissues show up top top diagnostic imaging (angiogram, CT, myelogram).

CT (computed tomography) scan: a kind of diagnostic X-ray the views anatomical frameworks of the mind and spine, specifically bones, soft tissues and vessels. Pictures are perceived in "slices," comparable to one MRI.

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myelogram: a diagnostic test in i m sorry a unique dye is injected right into the space around the spinal cord causing the nerves to present up white on one X-ray.

radiologist: a medical professional who specializes in reading X-rays and also other diagnostic scans.

X-ray: electromagnetic radiation provided in diagnostic imaging to see shadows the tissue thickness in the body, additionally called roentgenogram.

updated: 4.2018 the evaluation by: Staff, Mayfield Imaging Services, Cincinnati, Ohio