A myelogram is a test to check problems with your spinal canal, including the spinal cord, nerve roots, and spinal lining. The canal is a tunnel-like structure in your spine that holds your spinal cord. A myelogram uses a dye injected into the spinal canal with the guidance of imaging, usually by fluoroscopy (real time X-ray), X-ray, or computed tomography (CT). Pictures are then taken of your spinal canal.
How do I get ready for a myelogram?
Don’t eat the morning of the test. But you can drink water or other clear fluids.
If told to, stop taking medicines before the test.
Arrange for someone to drive you home.
Tell the healthcare provider
Tell the healthcare provider if you:
Are pregnant or think you may be
Have any bleeding problems
Take blood thinners (anticoagulants) or other medicines. These include aspirin, certain antipsychotic medicines, and antidepressants. You may be told to stop taking these one or more days before your test.
Have had back surgery or low-back pain
Have any allergies
What happens during a myelogram?
You will change into a hospital gown.
X-rays of your spine will be taken.
Your lower back will be cleaned, covered with drapes, and injected with a numbing medicine.
Your doctor will advance a thin needle under guidance, usually using fluoroscopy, into your spinal canal space.
Your doctor will inject contrast fluid (dye) into your spinal canal. The doctor may take out a small amount of spinal fluid.
Additional X-rays will be taken.
If you need a CT test, it will follow the X-rays.
What happens after a myelogram?
Take it easy for the rest of the day, as advised.
Avoid physical activity, or bending over for 1 to 2 days after the procedure, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
Lie down with your head raised if you get a headache, or if instructed to do so.
Drink plenty of water.
Your provider will discuss the test results with you at a follow-up appointment.
What are the risks of a myelogram?
Small risks of pain, bleeding or infection at the injection site or within or around the spinal canal
Injury to a nerve or the spinal cord at the injection site
X-ray radiation exposure (generally considered to be low risk and safe)
When should I call my healthcare provider?
Call your healthcare provider right away if:
You have a headache that lasts 2 days or more
Fever of 100.4 °F (38°C)
You have lasting pain in your back, or tingling in your groin or legs
Or, whatever your healthcare provider told you to report based on your medical condition
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