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What is a Discography procedure?


Discography procedures are used to diagnose diseased intervertebral discs. These discs rest between the bones of the spine, cushioning the vertebrae as they move throughout the day. However, the discs can become more fragile over time, breaking down due to repeated stresses, traumatic injury, or simply old age. An injured disc can cause localized pain in the neck or back, and some in cases, it can even lead to traveling symptoms like muscle weakness and shooting pain that radiates to other areas of the body. Due to these issues, it’s important to pinpoint the exact location of the affected disc, determine the extent of the problem, and then develop a helpful treatment plan. At Pain Care, our pain management team often diagnoses people in the Metro Atlanta, Georgia, area using discography to paint a clearer picture of their condition.

A discography is typically not performed on people who have minor back pain or have found that conservative treatment methods have helped manage their pain because the procedure is mildly invasive. People who do have a discography at one of Pain Care’s Metro Atlanta locations can expect the following:

  • The patient is awake during the discography to report his or her status, although local anesthetic is applied to numb the tissues in the affected area.
  • The physician uses a fluoroscope during the procedure to help locate the spinal discs and guide a needle to the center of each one the physician needs to test.
  • With all the needles in place, the physician will inject contrast dye into one disc at a time, pressurizing it.
  • This discography may cause pain – which the patient needs to indicate to the physician. If the pain is the same type of pain the patient has been experiencing, the disc in question may be damaged.
  • Fluoroscopic images are recorded throughout the discography for future reference and help with specific diagnoses.
  • The needles are then removed, and the patient is told to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to address any lingering soreness over the next few days.

To learn more about our use of discography, or about our practice in general, contact Pain Care today. You can also request an appointment at one of our Atlanta, GA, area offices by phone or via the form on this website.

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