Myelography

ExitCare ImageMyelography is an X-ray exam in which a special dye (contrast medium) is used to examine your spinal cord and nerve roots. The contrast medium helps to illuminate the spinal structures under examination. The exam is used to detect spinal cord problems, including spinal cord injury, disk ruptures, cysts, and tumors.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Any allergies you have.

  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, and over-the-counter medicines and creams.

  • Previous problems you or members of your family have had with the use of anesthetics or contrast media.

  • Any blood disorders you have.

  • Other health problems you have.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

Generally, myelography is a safe procedure. However, as with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Possible complications associated with myelography include:

  • Spinal fluid infection.

  • Allergic reaction to the contrast medium.

  • Loss of spinal fluid (can lead to severe headaches).

  • Seizures (rare).

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.

PROCEDURE

  • You will be positioned face down on a table.

  • Medicine may be given to you to help you relax.

  • A numbing medicine will be applied to the insertion site.

  • A needle will be inserted between your vertebrae. An imaging technique called fluoroscopy will be used to help your caregiver see the needle between the bones of your spine and guide it into the sac that surrounds your spinal cord and nerves (dura).

  • Contrast medium will be injected into the dura.

  • The table you lie on may be tilted in different directions to move the contrast medium around the dura.

  • A series of X-rays or computed tomography (CT) will be done.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

After your procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will lie flat with your head in an elevated position for a few hours before being discharged. This reduces the risk of a severe headache.