Lumbar, Cervical, or Thoracic Discography

What are intervertebral discs?
Spinal intervertebral discs are cushion-like pads that separate the bony vertebrae of your spine. A disc may become painful when it herniates, tears, or degenerates. In some cases, a herniated piece of a disc may press on a nerve or the spinal cord causing nerve damage pain. Typically, patients with a damaged disc will experience disabling pain around the spine.

What is discography?
Discography is a diagnostic technique to confirm if a patient is suffering pain from a damaged or ruptured disc. The discs are injected with contrast dye in order to confirm that a specific disc is the source of pain.

When discography has identified a painful disc, options may include injections of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), or bone marrow concentrate, into that disc. Open surgery with disc replacement is another option. PRP and/or bone marrow concentrate (BMC) injections are used to reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing.

What happens during the procedure?
An IV will be started to provide antibiotics and relaxation medication. We will then direct a small needle using X-Ray guidance into the disc space. After the needles are in the correct locations, contrast (dye) is injected into each disc.

A similar technique is used for the injection of biologic material, such as PRP or BMC.

What happens after discography and a fibrin injection? 
You will rest in the recovery area for 30-60 minutes, where our team will monitor your vital signs and level of pain. A CT scan of your back may be performed after the procedure to better assess the internal anatomy of the discs with the contrast still inside.

During this time, we will schedule a follow-up appointment. Your back may feel numb or weak for a few hours, but this is normal.

For your own safety, you cannot drive the day of the procedure, so please plan to have someone drive you to and from your appointment. The day after the procedure, you may resume normal activities and work.