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Insanely Terrified of a Myelogram and it's HEADACHE!!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,899
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi All -
I have re-written this twice, so I will sound less polite this third time!! Sorry -
Cutting to the chase - today's neuro appointment ended with me having to schedule a myelogram, which I did not do, as I am TERRIFIED of not only the procedure, but the SPINAL HEADACHE as well.
Has anyone had a myelogram and NOT EXPERIENCED a headache?? Are there precautions to take to avoid it altogether?? Must you be completely flat on the bed, as my neck injury almost requires some sort of small pillow?
I am really a mess over this - any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...
Thank you!!
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Comments

  • agp312

    I had a myleogram and experienced no spinal headache afterwards. I followed the instructions I was given and everything was fine.

    Obviously you have a condition that drove you to seek the assistance of a neurosurgeon, so why stop now.

    If you don't schedule the appt and have the myleogram, then you are in essence telling the NS "thanks but no thanks".

    "C"
  • so I'm sorry I can't give you any definate answers. I'm still waiting to be scheduled for a myelogram, and I only know what I've read about the procedure. For me, I'm pretty certain I'm going to have a headache-I get headaches a lot. I know that someone else will come along and give you some answers.....good luck and stay blessed.
  • Hi
    I had two mylograms and never got headache, i hear some do. its a little uncomfortable putting dye in but then not too bad, , when i had cervical i did have to keep pretty flat till CT was over. they want to make sure dye stays in cervical area for scan. Then they encourage you to use pillow to keep dye in out of head. you have to stay in bed for few hours, really in most case just a little uncomfortable when putting dye in lower back. then they tilt table head down to get dye to cervical area , then level again.
  • I have had 3 myelograms the last one just a few weeks ago.
    With the new dyes used today,it does not have to be removed
    from your back,it is absorbed through the body.When I had my first back op. in 1970 the dye had to be removed after
    the myelogram.This last one I did not have a headache.Also
    having the myelogram caused no pain.There is not much to having it.After this last one I was just told to dink a lot of water.This helps to remove the dye.
  • After my Mylogram I did have a headache due to the hole did not heal up, if that happens they told me to drink caffeine, if you already drink caffeine on a daily basis they told me to double up on the amount that I take in. I guess this helped to close up the hole from the needle in the spinal column. If I had to have it done again I would, but I am not going to lie, for me it was very uncomfortable, but it did not last long and if they can find the problem with this test it is well worth it.
  • I haven't but my dad has and he had to lay flat for about a day and didn't have a headache.
  • I had my myelogram last Friday and I was also terrified of the headache! I had an ESI about a month ago where he accidently did a wet tap and the headache was EXCRUCIATING, so I told the techs and radiologist over and over how afraid I was of the headache. The procedure itself was rather uncomfortable. 1-because he put a needle in my spinal cord. It's numbed first, but it still hurts. and 2-when they tilted the table down to get the dye into my neck, I had to keep my head way tilted back to "kink" my neck to keep the dye from going into my head. So that was a horribly uncomfortable position.

    Afterward, the tech told me to lay completely flat (WITH a pillow under my head - I still had to keep the dye out of my brain) for at least 24 hours (I think the usual standard is 3-4 hours, but because of my bad experience, she erred on the side of caution with me). And she said to keep laying down as much as possible even after 24 hours. Now, I am almost completely bedridden anyway, because my neck is so bad by now, I can't be "vertical" for very long at any time. So I didn't get up and around hardly at all for at least 48 hours.

    Anyway, they don't want you to stand or be up because that causes pressure on your lower cord where the hole is, which can cause the hole to get bigger, leak more, and cause a spinal headache!

    So just lay down as much as you can for as long as you can afterwards, drink lots of fluids (helps replace any spinal fluid that DOES leak out), and let everyone wait on you hand and foot for a couple of days!

    Good luck!
  • I was totally terrified of this procedure as well. They made me stay the night in the hospital for it. The injection of the dye was painless/. The worse part was tilting the table down and trying to hold my neck up. It was quick and tolerable. I had a headache that resolved quickly after about 10 minutes. I think it was more because of he table being tilted down than anything. I even said to the Radiologist and my Dr that they made a big deal over nothing. Schedule your appt.Bethy
  • I have performed thousands of myelograms for almost thirty years. Despite whatever article you read, the most important factors to prevent a post-myelogram spinal headache are needle size and hydration. The smaller the needle, the better (up to a point). I use a 27G for almost every myelogram and have not had a single patient with a post-myelo headache in possibly the last 500+ patients. I do stress the need for hydration. And... despite what you might read, caffeine is NOT good for you after a myelogram. It does essentially nothing for a true spinal headache AND it increases the risk of seizure. It does cure a caffeine withdrawal headache so that is probably part of the confusion in the literature.

    Incidentally, I have used a 29G needle on many occasions but there is no difference in the rate of headache as the incidence is already essentially zero with a 27G. Most people use the needle provided on most pre-made trays which is a 22G.

    With a 27G, the procedure should be out-patient with no waiting to go home and very few restrictions. Too many doctors make myelography an elaborate, overly complex procedure that frightens people unnecessarily.
  • Great post JHM. I just had a myelogram 2 days ago. The worst part of it was the IV I had to get before the myelogram. As far as the procedure goes, it was a bit uncomfortable, but nothing more. The first time I screamed they gave me more drugs. (ha ha) You can barely see the needle hole in my back, I've had no headache at all. Here is the advice I was given from the doctor (and it worked great)

    #1. Drink LOTS of water the day before, the day of and the following day.

    #2. DO NOT lay flat on your back, prop your head and shoulders up with 2-3 pillows.(I hated to sleep like that)

    #3. DO NOT drink caffiene within 4-6 hrs after the procedure (remember chocolate has caffiene in it also)

    #4 Take it easy the rest of the day, and into the following day.

    If you have gotten to the place where you need a Myelogram, don't stop now. Sometimes I think people worry themselves right into believing it's gonna happen...then it does. To that I'd have to say...It's in your head. (ha ha)

    Good luck!
  • I had my first one yesterday and it was a cake walk. I worked myself up for a week prior and it was for nothing. I didn't even so much as feel the needle when it went on and felt no pressure. They tilted me head down so the dye would go into my cervical area and it was only for a few seconds. I drank plenty of water that morning and after the exam and did not lay down for 8 hours, no headache at all and slept well last night. I was at the imaging center maybe 1 1/2 hours and that was all. Please do not stress like I did.

    Sharon
  • I had a Myleogram back in October of 1988..I have had a HEADACHE every minute of my life since..I would tell anyone do not get this done.. I have to live with this pain and nothing seems to help..
  • I would never, ever have another Myleogram done. It's horrific! I've dealt with a lot of pain in my life, and this was one of the scariest things I've ever done, and I wasn't nervous beforehand.

    The tilting towards my head felt like someone was standing on my neck and I had trouble breathing. The pressure was so immense...never again.
  • agp312 said:
    Hi All -
    I have re-written this twice, so I will sound less polite this third time!! Sorry -
    Cutting to the chase - today's neuro appointment ended with me having to schedule a myelogram, which I did not do, as I am TERRIFIED of not only the procedure, but the SPINAL HEADACHE as well.
    Has anyone had a myelogram and NOT EXPERIENCED a headache?? Are there precautions to take to avoid it altogether?? Must you be completely flat on the bed, as my neck injury almost requires some sort of small pillow?
    I am really a mess over this - any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...
    Thank you!!
    I had one in March. I was told to elevate my head not lay flat. If you lay flat you will get the headache. I had no problems and the myelogram will tell your doctor a lot more then a MRI.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • I have an upcoming CT & Myelogram on March 21st. I've been told it's very uncomfortable and I'm most certainly not looking forward to it but will report my experience.

    Stay tuned.
  • I had a Myelogram some time ago (I believe it was 1989 or 1990). It was, BY FAR, the most painful diagnostic procedure I've ever endured. The physical process of creating the spinal tap wasn't too bad, but the injection of the contrast dye was excruciating. It will greatly exacerbate the pain caused by any nerve impingement.

    Similar to the experience of others, the post-exam headache was unbelievably intense and lasted somewhere between 3 and 4 days. In my 39 years of existence, I've never suffered a headache half as intense as this. I literally spent the entire time writhing on my bed, and moaning from the pain. After all that, the results were "inconclusive". I would strongly recommend that this diagnostic procedure only be considered when other less invasive diagnostic tests have failed to identify the source of your problem.

    If you have a Myelgram scheduled, discuss the headache phenomenon, and how to avoid it with the technicians and your doctor before anyone lays a hand on you. Follow any post-exam instructions they give you to the letter. In my case I was instructed to lie flat for 24 hours. After lying flat for 18-19 hours I thought "Close enough", got up for maybe 5 minutes to grab some food, and laid back down. Unfortunately, in my case 18-19 hours didn't quite cut it.
  • I had no problem with the dye during or afterwards, even with a 2.5 hour ride home 4 hours afterwards. I had 2 severely impinged nerves plus moderate cord impingement at one location. My only problem was after strapped to the table with head and neck awkwardly demobilized and the dye injected, the equipment shutdown and I had to lay like that an additionally 30 minutes while equipment was rebooted. Major neck ache, but 10mg Valium and 2 7.5 Narcos had that relieved within 2 hours.

    My research before scheduling convinced me to go to a Radiology practice that did dozens of myelograms a week, not one that does 2 or 3 a month, hence the 2.5 hour drive.
    C3-C7
    Severe DDD, Severe neural foraminal stenosis at 2 levels, moderate canal stenosis at 2 levels, significantly impaired left shoulder & arm function. Chronic moderate compression fracture at C6.
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