Discography is a procedure to determine the disk level(s) that is causing pain.

How is the procedure performed?

The procedure is generally performed only in surgery centers or hospitals.  You should arrive 1 hour before the scheduled injection time. When you get to the surgery center/hospital, an intravenous will be started and you will be given an antibiotic. In about an hour,you will be escorted into the x-ray room. The skin is anesthetized with a local anesthetic, and under the x-ray guidance, your physician will insert a needle into the disk. The local anesthetic and dye are injected through the needle. You will be asked to let the doctor know whether or not this reproduces your usual pain. This process may be performed at multiple disks to find the correct level of disc(s) that is causing you pain.

What should I do before the procedure?

You should not eat or drink for at least 6 hours before the procedure except for water.

You should bring a responsible adult who will be able to provide you a ride home after the procedure.

What should I expect after the procedure?

You may feel sore after the injection. You may also feel that your pain level has increased from before the procedure. If you experience soreness in your back at the site of the injection, it will be helpful to place ice packs three or four times a day. You may take your usual pain medication after the procedure.

You should not take a tub bath in water (i.e. pool, jacuzzi, etc.) for the remainder of the day.

Possible side effects and risks

Very rarely- in less than 1% of the time, patients may experience diskitis, which is an infection in the disk that can result in an infection in the spine.

There is also a risk of paraesthesia, which is a type of pain that feels like an “electric shock.” This is usually felt as the medicine is injected into the disk, but it continues on rare cases.

Some of the unusual side effects include bleeding, infection, nerve injury, or allergic reaction to the medications injected.

Other temporary side effects include weakness or numbness, which could last for several hours.