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Discogram..

nursedina001nnursedina001 Posts: 234
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My surgeon said something about a discogram. I herad it was very painful adn he agreed and will do what I want/or don't want him to do, but he said it would be useful in diagnosing weather or not I need another surgery.

Can anyone here who has had the procedure tell me more about it. How bad did it hurt? Howe many needles did they use? Were you medicated before hand? Was it alot worse then the ESIs ??

Thanks for anyone who can respond!!
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Comments

  • I have ha 2 discograms. They are considered the gold standard by surgeons for identifing the painful discs prior to surgery. For me, I had every other test, scan and procedure and this was the only thing that showed that I had 3 discs with tears, two with annular tears.
    The test is only really painful if you have damaged discs. They use one needle per disc and apply fluid under pressure until either you have pain or they reach a certain pressure. Then afterwards the do a CT Scan to see where the dye in the fluid injected goes. Afterwards you feel uncomfortable and they generally give you pain medication for this. They also gave me some sedation so I dont really remember it that well. So I guess it is hard to say it is worse than ESI's. It is nothing to be that scared of. Your Dr will generally order the test for the discs involved and the one above and below it. Hope this helps. I know that my surgeon was only going to do 1 level fusion until the test showed both levels had annular tears. He didnt do the third one, he felt it was better to risk it later and only do two levels and have a better result, than to do three levels and risk failure. He says the more levels at once, the greater risk of failure.
  • but I am glad that I had the discogram so they could tell what disc were involved. Would I do it again? Probably. Was it painful? Yes, but they do give you pain meds shortly afterwards. Good luck whatever you decide to do

    Donna
  • I would strongly recommend doing it. I had one before my fusion; for me it helped confirm (and reassure me) the fusion was the right thing to do because my pain was "concordant" - it occurred when my doc was injecting the disc that had multiple tears. I recently had a second one after my fusion to rule out the need to fuse the level above - which it did do and fortunately I don't need a second fusion. Sometimes the disc that looks worst on an MRI is not the disc that is causing the pain - the discogram helps sort that out. As stated above, my doc gives a very light sedation before the procedure, just enough to remove any baseline pain (although I hear some docs make you go without painmeds before), then injects the dye into the disc (the added volume of the fluid creates a pressure that theoretically reproduces discogenic pain), you do X-rays & CT scan to show where the dye leaks to; my doc was great about making sure they gave me IV meds to take away any procedural pain before I left the surgery center. If you hear bad things about discograms, its because of docs that don't take the extra measure to do this immediately after the procedure and allow for a little extra pain med the next day or two.
  • I had mine two weeks ago and it was bad but the reason I did it was it is unfakeable I'm out on comp and my doctor wants me to wait to get the next surgery and I just wanted the comp people to know I was not bullshiting them on my pain. I tell you that to tell you this it is bad can be real bad but it is accurate as long as you have a ct after wards it will tell you exactly what is going on , pretty much.they like to do 3 levels so it would be 3 needles , some docs like you to not take your med before some don't care , but they will help you with meds afterwards . If you have any more questions you can pm me ,I just had one so its fresh in my head.
  • I had one done prior to my surgery. The nurse gave me 2 xanax before the procedure so I was partially sedated. I've heard other places will do IV. Mine was done under fluoroscope (sp?) live xray. I don't remember how many needles were used to numb the area but when they put the injection in the first disc L4/L5 is just felt like the other needles they used to numb the area so no big deal and then they did L5/S1 and I was talking and all of a sudden I stopped talking and I remember my left hip started hurting (which I started to tell them was weird cuz all my pain was always on right side). Then I the pain was so hot and intense within seconds. It was apparent by my reaction and by the xray that the L5/S1 was shot. The injection should show as a popcorn shape in the middle of the disc. My L5/S1 was a thin line along the whole length of the disc (not good).

    I'm sorry if this scares you, however, I wanted to be perfectly honest. If I had to do another one to see if I have other discs that were torn, herniated etc I would do in a heartbeat. I would just pray it wasn't bad so I wouldn't feel that pain again lol. Before this test my doc said MRI and xrays showed that my discs were not that bad and I shouldn't be in as much pain as I was until the discogram confirmed it. In my opinion this was a very accurate way to test the disc.

    Best of luck to you and make sure they give you something to sedate you even if they can prescribe a couple days early so you can take before you leave the house to go to your appt. That way it will kick in by the time you get there. You won't be able to drive home afterward so bring someone with you. I was in so much pain that it took awhile to settle it down before I could leave. They had to wheel me out in a wheelchair.

    Please keep us updated on how you make out. My prayers are with you.
  • Thanks for asking this question Dina, I've been wondering too. I've never been ordered one as yet, as it was very obvious which disc was originally was causing the problems, but if I need one in the future for my "other" problem areas
    I'll know what to expect from all the great replies here !!!
  • It looks like everyone agrees.

    I too am VERY grateful that I went through with the discogram, despite the scare stories.

    My NS was considering only one disc fusion and waiting a year for the second as the MRI's showed that one was worse than the other. If we had gone through with that I would have had little to no pain relief from my surgery.

    I did not believe I needed surgery at all before the discogram.

    It was the discogram that pinpointed where my pain was coming from - and it was the disc that the NS was thinking of waiting on!

    I was given 2 valium about 1/2 hour prior (I told them I am mortally afraid of needles - I really am) and so they doubled the standard dose.

    This is kind of freaky, but I did not realize that the needles go in from the side, I was laying on my left side and the needle holes were on my right side - not my back. They go under the skin until they get to the discs and enter on the side of the disc. It's not just a straight shot from mid-back to disc. I had a right to be afraid of that size of a needle! It was done under a flouroscope - the dr. could see by x-ray where he was going.

    I was kind of loopy, but I could sure tell when they injected the die! Of course, it wasn't any worse than what I was already feeling on a daily basis - they just re-created what I was already dealing with. Then the CT scan proved it.

    I was trembling uncontrollably, in some severe pain, when they had to roll me over to take me for the CT. I was drenched in sweat too. As soon as the die had been injected in all three discs we were testing, they did give me a lot of IV pain meds. At that point I didn't need to tell them when it hurt, we were through with that part.

    That said, I would do it again if I had to, before deciding on such a serious surgery as a fusion.
  • Hi

    I am based in England and recently had a discogram in order to confirm the state of my disc in preparation for a fusion. I wasn't offered any form of pain relief from the consultant either before or after the discogram. I found having the discogram was as uncomfortable as having the facet joint injections earlier, which I found were copable without pain relief. however, dependent upon the state of your discs you may well get pain afterwards (my surgeon warned me about this). Each case is individual, but in my case I did have a lot of pain for a few days afterwards. Having said that, there is no way I would even consider a fusion without a strong diagnosis and the discogram is the best there is (according to my surgeon).

    Despite the level of pain I had following it, I wouldn't hesitate to have a discogram again when making a decision to have major surgery.

  • Hello all!
    I had a discogram in December. I had read posts about how terrible and painful the procedure would be, but knew that it was necessary to find out what my problem was.
    I am very thankful that I have a wonderful pain management doctor, who has performed many epidural steroid injections on me, and also did the discogram.
    Usually after ESI's I am sore for a few days, and it takes a week or so for the medicine to work. My doctor provided me with plenty of stronger pain meds after the discogram, and they were needed. I was pretty sore, and had help getting up for a few days - but it was well worth it. I've finally (after 4 years) been diagnosed with grade 4/5 annular tear that has caused me much pain. Planning on a TLIF in June. Now to get through the fear of that!

    Thanks for reading!
  • I just had a discogram on April 1 and the procedure itself was much easier than the ESI's that I've had done. I hadn't taken any of my meds that day and was about a 7 on the pain scale. The doc wanted me at a 4 and gave me versed and fentanyl. Then the procedure did not re-create my pain. Bummer. Funny thing, my MRI shows a L5-S1 tear, has been there for 2 years. My problem is the pain afterward, I've been at a 7 or 8 since. And this is while taking Tramadol and Vicodin. Headed in this afternoon to be checked by the doc, hoping there is not a complication...
    Jay
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