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Minimally Invasive Pain Institute

Pain Management Procedures

Diagnostic Discograms

Discography is a certain kind of spinal imaging that can be used to further diagnose spinal disorders. This procedure is used to diagnose the source of pain within the spine.


  • Discography is performed in one of our state of the art procedure by using x-ray imaging and fluoroscopy (similar to x-ray).
  • For your safety and comfort, the physician or nurse may start an intravenous line and give some medication to help you relax.
  • It is important that you remain awake during the procedure so that you are able to communicate with the physician and describe your symptoms.
  • You may be given an antibiotic to minimize the risk of infection.
  • If you are undergoing a lumbar (low back) discectomy, you will lie on your stomach for the procedure. If you are undergoing a cervical (neck) discectomy, you will lie on your back.
  • The area where the needles will be inserted will be thoroughly cleansed with an antiseptic solution.
  • The physician will then inject some numbing medication.
  • After the numbing medication takes effect, another needle will be inserted though the skin into the disc space.
  • During the procedure, the physician will use and x-ray machine (fluoroscope) connected to a TV monitor and x-rays may be taken at this time.
  • The physician will use fluoroscopic guidance to verify proper placement of the needle.
  • The physician will then inject the center of the discs of the spine with contrast dye.
  • The contrast dye is visible using the fluoroscope.
  • If the contrast dye spreads to areas outside the disc, this reveals if there are any tears within the disc that may or may not be the source of pain.
  • The dye allows the provider to further assess each disc and notice if there are any deviations.

How does it Work?
By injecting the disc with a radio-opaque contrast dye, the physician is able to observe the disc on a monitor using a fluoroscope, a special x-ray machine. Any tears will be visible if the dye leaks into the space surrounding the disc. Scarring, bulges or changes in the disc will be also be visible.

After the Procedure
You will not be able to drive for the remainder of the day following a selective nerve root block. It is best to have an adult drive you home and accompany you to your home. This person should also be available to you should you require assistance at any time during the day after your procedure. You may experience some muscle soreness in your back where the needles were inserted. Apply ice packs to these areas and take your usual pain medication to help alleviate this pain. Do not apply heat or soak in water for the remainder of the day. Depending on how you feel, you may be able to resume normal activity and return to work within 1 to 3 days.

For a better understanding of interventional pain treatment services, contact the healthcare professionals at Minimally Invasive Pain Institute.  They can help customize a treatment for you and your acute or chronic pain condition. To find out if you are a good candidate, or for more information on this and other pain treatment services, read on or contact our pain management center.  Together, we’ll help you find the relief you need for the quality of life you deserve.