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Had a Discogram lately?? Need your input

SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everyone:

When I met with the surgeon this week I thought we'd solidify the plan for a 360 fusion (L3-S1). But he said he previously thought a discogram wasn't necessary but he'd like to do one to have all the information he can. With the stainless steel used in my 1993 L4-S1 fusion all CT's, myelograms, and MRI's just are not really clear though we think we know what is going on in there.

The last discogram I had was in 1992 and was done almost like an outpatient procedure with some versed for relaxation. My Pain Management doctor's office does the discogram so I'll have it done there in their procedure suite. They say no versed but I think I talk him into a smidge toward the end. Then to the hospital for a CT right after the discogram.

So, after all that, the basis of my question is - have you had one lately? any sedation? how did it go? did it show what was really going on in your spine or did they find more during surgery? (this last question is really important to me).
2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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Comments

  • had one done at my PMs surgery center. It was done under live xray. I was given Fentanyl and Versed. He did find my annular tear from the discogram and it did confirm which discs were the most painful. I hope that helped you. Good luck and let us know how you make out.
  • I DID have sedation, but not Versed, because I'm allergic to it. They put me out (or at least I felt out) and then woke me when the injected the dye and pressure to check the load on the discs. Due to my screaming, they quickly put me out again. I was fairly relaxed when I woke up and went directly to another facility for the CT. While you often hear that the discograms are painful and unnecessary, mine did show that all three of my discs were torn straight through the annulus on both sides from left to right. This, of course, caused my surgeon to decide she couldn't operate on me because I had too many damaged levels. I fortunately found someone who would operate and I'm much better off now. I hope your doc will give you some sedation. I'm not sure how much damage you have or how painful your procedure will be, but I still fully remember mine.

    Linda

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I had a Discogram in August with no sedation. They checked three levels. It was painful, but though I found myself biting my fist, it wasn't horrendous, and soon over. Results meant Surgeon was confident to fuse at just one level rather than three, so I think it was worthwhile. Good luck with it though. I know it's worse for some than others.
  • I had a discogram this year with just fentanyl for sedation. It honestly was not that bad. It obviously hurt pretty bad when they hit the bad disc, but I don't remember much of it.

    They did find an annular tear that did *not* show up on my MRI. Based on what they found in the discogram I was able to have minimally invasive IDET surgery to repair the disc rather than a bigger surgery, so it was definitely worth it.
  • They did give me a mild sedation, not sure what, but not much as they wanted me to be able to tell them how I felt. They found the three discs with tears in them, so I found them priceless for the results. My insurance co made me repeat it because it had not been recorded pressures. So I had to go to MPLS MN and repeat it at their expense. That was 12,000.00. And they wonder why insurance keeps going up. The fist test was 3000.00 and they repeat it for 12,000 and get the same result..Fusion no matter. Sorry, get off my soapbox now.
    The second one did show that two discs were in worse shape and led to a two level instead of a three level. For that I was thankful..It is not a painless procedure, but it isnt bad until they hit the discs that are problems. That bad pain is only momentary and then it goes back to normal. The test irritates the bad discs which increases pain, for a day or two.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Thank you all for your input. I recently had a SI ablation and I "know" it was painful but thanks to versed I don't really remember the pain in terms of feeling it...I just remember saying "ouch".

    I will ask them up front to do a small dose to relax me just a bit. I have a high tolerance for versed these days so the last time I had some the staff was stunned I was awake and conversing so freely. They finally agreed maybe I needed some more.

    Hopefully this puts an end to the investigation and we can then get on with the treatment. I should know more soon. I hope the PM office will give me the results, at least from what they see, and I see the surgeon 12/1. I can just feel that something needs to be done surgically - thank goodness for LTD as I keep getting paid benefits while this all happens.

    Karin
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I had a discogram done last month. I was terrified. I'd never had any type of sedative before and I am so scared of anything that involves an IV. I made sure to tell the nurses and anyone else that I was terrified, so they were extra gentle with me. They even numbed my hand before inserting the IV. I will say that I was extra sore for a few weeks after the discogram, but not all people have that happen.

    I don't know what they put in my IV to sedate me, but I wasn't all the way out. I could feel the pain and talk to them, and I vaguely remember bits and pieces of it. I was crying a lot during the procedure. Then as soon as it began it was done. Now, I barely remember the pain. Whatever they gave me worked well.

    I know it will be painful but I would get another in a heartbeat. If you do indeed feel pain then it will be so very helpful in figuring out which disc is bothering you. I have 2 herniations but only had surgery on 1 of them because of my discogram results.

  • I had one this past July. It was necessary for insurance purposes, so they would approve my fusion.

    I won't lie: it is painful, but not for too long. I wasn't given any anti-anxiety meds. They sedate you for a short while, then wake you so you can tell them when you feel pain.

    When all is done they will inject a pain killer into the discs. The rest of the day was great because I was pain free for the first time in a very long time.

    However, once the meds wore off, major pain. Make sure they give you painkillers. I was hurting for the next 10 days. Ice helped, and rest.

    The discogram told my surgeon that 85% of the pain was coming from one disc and 15% fromn another disc.
    I can't think of anything else to add. Good luck.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    In 2002 I had one after I had a mri that clearly showed I was in need of a 3 level fusion. But I can read a blue print and an mri or any other imaging is a blue print "very technical" of my spine. And it was also very clear that the disc adjacent "above" was not healthy enough to support the weight transfer. It was way lessor in height than any other good disc in my spine. I asked that it be fused all so because it would go out under the pressure once the 3 levels were fused. But they did a disco gram. And it showed that, that disc was not bad enough to have to be legally done.
    In 10 months that disc failed under the weight. So I had to go through another fusion. And same thing the next disc was damaged, but not enough to "medically have to fuse it. So they didn't
    Now guess what, that disc lasted 2 yr. And same thing!!!!
    A discogram just shows the insurance co. how much they don't have to do. Even though it would make perfect sense to do it. And get it over with.
    But I think they are just hoping I will die before they have to spend any more money!!!
    Now guess where I'm going Monday at 1 p.m.
    YUP!! to get another discogram for my upcoming surgery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Good luck, Jim ~X( 8} :''(
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    I suppose I went off on a tangent, because It made me think back to the begining of the medical mistakes that were made on me and the pain and constant surgerys i've needlessly had to have, and have to get right now.
    But in fact the discogram does give the surgeon a better view of youre discs in slices that other imaging wouldn't get.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • Yep had one last Month to see if the consultant was sure which disc it was that was causing the pain
    Both L4 and L5 S1 were on the MRI scan as damaged, but after some sedation and calm talking all the way through, the consultant found that L4 was causing no pain, and L5 he could not get the needle into to inject the dye, as it is so thin,. Felt Ok under the sedative, but acute pain when in the right area, which was comforting as I needed to know that it really is the discs that are causing my pain.
    Job done. UK consultant, BUPA covered privately.
  • I was given a couple of tablets of Xanax which didn't help so I took Klonopin along with it. It was painful but that was because I did have a bad disk. This is a good procedure to do to ensure that your disks really are bad as they will show up on the CTscan or in my case I had it done under fluroscopy (sp?) so I got my results right there and actually got a copy of the xray. Good luck with your discogram. Keep us posted.
  • I had one done at 3 levels about 3 weeks ago. It is very simple. I had a little versed but I dont even think I needed it. Im not too fond of the discogram though, they are supposed to have a somewhat high rate of giving false-positives or false-negatives, but my surgeon wanted it done. I was positive for reproduction of symptoms(Nerve pain) at my L5/S1 disc, but it wasnt very painful, the nerves in my most painful area of foot came alive and burned a bit, my toes clinched some. After getting home however I did have more pain than usual for about 36 hours.

    I am now scheduled for a L4/L5/S1 two-level interbody fusion in a couple months. I have struggled with my latest injury for almost 2 years now and I have no choice.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    I know the feeling! Read my post # 9. And think about it. does any of that at all apply to you?
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • Hello everyone I just had a Discogram on 11/9/2009 I only got some numbing medicine before they put the medicine in also received some antibiotics before I went back. When they tested the L4 level it was fine but when they tested L5/S1 I almost hit the roof it was the most painful thing I ever felt. So the doctor told me that it is my L5/S1 where my pain is located can anyone tell what will happen next does this constitues that I will have to have surgery I had the P/T did not work at all and also had the injections still did not work. But I am still in alot of pain today so good luck if any one can give me information on the next step please let me know.
  • It really depends on how much pain your discs are causing you. I had four disc done and I was totally fine with two, just felt a little pressure. BUT two were really bad and without an IV there to give me meds I think I would have passed out.

    I would insist on haveing the ability of IV drugs on demand after the test. You may be fine, but if they hit a live one you will need all they can give you. For me it showed L34 and L5S1 are causinig me a lot of pain and we are still deciding what to do with this.

    Best of luck and keep us informed. Mitcy
  • ceecee41 said:
    Hello everyone I just had a Discogram on 11/9/2009 I only got some numbing medicine before they put the medicine in also received some antibiotics before I went back. When they tested the L4 level it was fine but when they tested L5/S1 I almost hit the roof it was the most painful thing I ever felt. So the doctor told me that it is my L5/S1 where my pain is located can anyone tell what will happen next does this constitues that I will have to have surgery I had the P/T did not work at all and also had the injections still did not work. But I am still in alot of pain today so good luck if any one can give me information on the next step please let me know.
    Hi, sounds like my symptoms totally. Going to the consultant tomorrow to discuss the results of the L5 discogram I had last month (been away on hols since). Disc is about 20% of normal height, too thin for IDET treatment (google it) so having to go for either Total Disc replacement or Fusion. Reading here, would try to avoid fusion as it only concerns one disc so far, and would like to nip in the bud the main problem with it. So will let you know what happens after tomorrows discussion.
    Would have liked IDET, then replacement then fusion as last resort. Was fully expecting IDET and looking forward to it as it is relatively quick and fast recovery, but now the needle will not be able to into the disc then the next option is TDR.

    Thats it for now, will let you know.
    Matt :?
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    No I.V. meds no nothing! Broke a needle off in my back! Never, never,never experienced that kind of pain!!! And Ive had discograms before.
    Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • OMG I cannot imagine having a needle broken in my back. That must be horrible. I had discogram on 10/1/09. I will never do another one. It was helpful to find my L4/L5 was the cause of the pain, but the pain during and after was some of the worst I have experienced in 3 years of back problems. They gave me large amounts of Versed and unfortunately it didn't knock me after it was finsihed. I am sched for a One level fusion on Monday 11/16/09. I hope yours goes well and is not so painful.
  • Oh my goodness! No IV, no drugs??? No pain medication AND they broke a needle in your back?! Were they able to get it out? I can't believe they didn't give you an IV with pain meds, I'm so sorry you had to go through this!
  • Your doc didn't talk to you about what is next after the discogram? My orthosurgeon was the one that performed the discogram and did under fluroscopy (sp?) so not only was my crying and screaming and indicator that my L5 was not good but he also had live xray to indicate it. My L4 was good and it didn't hurt at all but when he injected L5, I, like you, almost hit the roof. It took about 2wks to calm the pain down. It was the worse pain I ever felt but I would do again if it was needed to determine if I needed surgery or not.

    They allowed me to take extra dose of my pain meds as well as they gave me 2 Xanax so it did help enough to get me home but I was crying the whole way.

    Do you have a follow up appt with your doc? Do you have an neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon you are consulting with? I was lucky enough to have my pain mgmt doc and orthopedic surgeon in same office. Keep us posted.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    when I wrote that and in a lot of pain. There was an i.v. and they put antibiotics in it and some thing else, but I told them what ever it was, I didn't feel a thing. But they proceeded anyway. when he broke the needle off I heard him ask for the same needle to replace it and they did get it out. But still proceeded without giving me anything into the i.v. After I had been screaming out in pain. And at that point I was only 1/4 the way through.
    He told me that there was no disc between L3&L2 and didn't know how he was going to get a needle in there before the procedure. And trying to force it was most likely the reason it broke.
    When the x ray shows there is no disc why would the insurance co. require a discogram.
    Over the many years of surgeries and chronic pain, I know that I have built up a tolerance to pain. And I'm no stranger to pain. But this was savage!!!
    A discogram is too get the pressure and imaging of the disc to see if it medically warrants surgery. Well if the dam thing is gone, then what was the point in making me go through all of that torcher! Let this be a lesson to anyone getting a discogram, find out exactly what they are giving you for pain and under no circumstances should you let them start until you are medically comfortable.
    Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • They gave me no meds before or after. The procedure was about as much pain as i could ever imagine. When I went home I took a nap and woke up in severe pain! They neglected to tell me I would barely be able to walk for a day or two. I received meds finally the next afternoon late.

    The bottom line is it showed my surgeon where my real pain was stemming from and helped him decide what procedure to do. I guess it was worth the brutal pain but I still wish they gave me a little something to cut the pain.

    Good luck.
  • Oh my gosh I just can't believe that some doctors perform discograms without administering any pain medication! I'm so sorry some of you had to experience it that way.
  • pretty much sucked all the way around!
  • I understand why they don't want to give you too much pain meds cuz they need to recreate the "pain" in order to find out what's going on. However, it seems so inhumane to not give you anything at all to even calm you down. That's just crazy!

    Jim, everytime I read your story about your discogram and the needle breaking off, I get goosebumps and feel so bad for you. I can't even begin to imagine the pain you were feeling at that time.
  • For my discogram I refused any sedation and pain medication. Yes it was horrible, but IMO it is the way to get the best diagnosis. A discogram can cause pain in a non pain generating level. You need to be able to accurately describe the type of pain being recreated if any at all.

    It may have been really difficult, but you can rest assured that you got the most bang for your buck so to say with that test. You have to remember, discograms are still controversial in the medical field and you definately don't want to have to repeat it because the doctor performing it did not interpret your pain correctly because you were so drugged up and all you could say was ouch.

    With that being said, they should have given you some type of pain medication or benzodiazepine after the procedure and told you what to expect.
  • I am grateful for my discogram - if I'd not had it done then my NS would have only fused the L4-5 disc. The discogram showed that although S1-L5 looked better it was the more painful one.

    I would have had a one-level fusion - but I would have been left with most of my same pain if not for tha discogram that steered us right.
  • Well I do have a appt next thursday to go over my discogram results my pain is worse now than it ever was since the discogram my pain medicine is not helping but I hope he is pushing toward surgery because my pain is really really unbearable I will keep you posted on what the outcome is.
  • When I went in for my discogram the medical staff tried to put in an IV in my hand(s). I have the worst veins ever. After so many tries, by numerous people, and many tears at this point, they put the IV in my FOOT! I think that hour of IV attempting was almost worse than the disco!

    As I type this I am already cringing about the nursing staff putting an IV in next Wed. I think I will ask for a calming pill before the IV, its just so stressful to have done.

    Oh well, sorry for wasting your time with my boo hoo drivel. Have a good weekend everyone.
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