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Discogram tom-what to expect-scared

avery755aavery755 Posts: 17
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have been trying to read posts on this and only found about ten from awhile ago so I apologize if this is redundant. I go for my first discogram tomorrow morning and I am so nervous.I will get a CT scan done afterwards. I feel like throwing up thinking about it.

Can you tell me what to expect? Because this is so painful do they give you something afterwards to help with the pain or should I bring a pain pill with me? I know during the treatment they will give me an iv with antibiotics and versed but didn't know about afterwards.

Thanks in advance for any comments good or bad.



  • Dear Avery,

    Please try not to stress so much, the worst part is over very quickly, the rest is in our heads.

    My disco was this past July. After the IV insertion they gave me some time and came back for me. The Anaesthesiologist gave me something to knock me out, slightly, so they could wake me up for my answers to the pain references at the different discs (nothing, OK, horrible). As soon as I was finished and they were "happy" with the results of the test, I was immediately given more anaesthetics injected into each disc. The rest of the day I never felt so good, so pain free, once that kicked in.

    I can't recall taking a pain pill that morning, or not. They should be able to tell you if you call. Good luck, its not fun and for a short time is painful, but the worst part really is only a short amount of time and the test is very informative.

    If you have endured such pain as to require a discogram, then I think you will do just fine. Good luck, Lisa
  • They are not as bad as some make them out to be. It definately isn't an afternoon at the spa, but not the worst. The best part is, mine lasted longer than it should have, but I thought it was like 15 minutes.

    Afterwards you only remember certain parts of it. They give you something that is sort of like not remembering what you did on a rough drinking night :)

    You will be ok.
  • Thank you for your responses. I was reading its worse than childbirth and was wondering how that can be. I normally don't get nervous for things like injections but this one has me shaking a little.

    I feel a little more comforted.

  • That's a bunch of malarky. It isn't pleasant, but you already know what pain is, which is why you are probably getting this.

    Not sure if linking to another site is allowed, but here is a pretty good write-up someone did.

  • I wasn't as out of it as some of the others but I would still do it again for the valuable information we got from it.

    I would have had to have a second fusion 1 year after the first one - and probably NO pain releif inbetween, if I'd not had a discogram.

    My NS was planning on doing L4/L5 and then waiting a year and then doing the S1/L5.

    My discogram showed that S1/L5 was the most painful even though it looked better on all the films.

    As for the actual procedure I was given some Valium when I arrived to calm my nerves.

    I think I was not only scared of the pain, but the worry that they would trigger the CES scared me to death!

    Fortunately the dr. went easy on me and after trigging the pain he pushed a lot of painkillers. The hardest part was moving from the table to the wheeled bed that they used to get me to the CAT scan room. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably and although I was not sobbing I was unable to control the horrendous stream of tears.

    I did recover a LOT quicker than expected and was feeling almost up to going back to work the next day. I'm glad I took it off, but it wasn't a 'do-or-die' thing and if I had to I could have worked.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    The pain is bad "in the moment" and each moment is a brief spurt. After I had a dull ache for a day or so. They gave be a bit of versed during (to relax me a bit) and after gave me pain meds at my request.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I was absolutely terrified for my discogram. I gave myself an anxiety attack thinking about it!

    My best advice to you would be to make sure you tell every single nurse that you are terrified. They will go out of their way to take good care of you. Yes, it is painful but to be 100% honest with you, I only remember little bits & pieces of it now. I remember that it hurt, but i don't remember the pain... if that makes sense.

    I also got a CT scan right afterward and I had absolutely no issues being transferred from one gurney to another or anything like that. I think I actually pulled myself up for them too.

    I would not take a pain pill before hand, you never know if it will mix badly with what they give you through the IV. If you're really concerned, call them up and ask them exactly what will happen. They should have no issue with explaining the whole process to you. You can also ask them if you can take something. I was sore for a while after the discogram and I personally smoked pot to get the edge off, since my pain pills pre-op were really weak and lame.

    I hope yours will go as well as mine did. Just be happy that the discogram can help so much in deciding on surgery! :) Good luck!
  • I had a discogram done 4 Nov. I too was pretty freaked out about it beforehand. My Dr prescribed me some anti-anxiety medication to take an hour before the procedure and some antibiotics to take the morning of. The procedure only lasted 30 minutes. I have severe DDD at L4/L5 and L5/S1. My Dr pressurized each disc without telling me which one to see if he could replicate my normal pain. After he pressurized the disc, he asked me on a scale of 1-10 where the pain level was. It started out as my normal 5-6 and then he pressurized and my pain was off the charts. Then he went to the next disc and the same thing. It hurts, but I think it is a valuable procedure. He was able to determine that both discs were responsible for my pain since he was able to replicate it. I had a CT done right after the procedure and although I felt pretty crummy afterward, it wasn't too bad. Don't worry about it...it'll be over before you know it. Good luck.

  • I forgot to mention that, for me, I was in pain at the injection sites for at least a week. The Dr. gave me a pain prescription and icing my back helped. Others bounce back faster, just be prepared that you may be hurting for at least a few days afterward.
  • I just had a discogram 2 days ago and I was terrified it was going to hurt really bad, but I am wondering if anyone out there had a discogram and their results were negative because they didn't think the test was as painful as the doctor thought you would find it???

    Let me explain, the pain was bad, but I have a high threshold for pain so i didn't yell out or anything like that, and on the MRI it shows I have a degenerated disk at L5-S1 and i have constant pain since my laminectomy/discectomy in July, my surgeon was considering a fusion, but since the discogram he said i don't need one because I wasn't in as much pain as he though when he pressurized the disc, but I didn't know when to speak up, did anyone else have confusing experiences with the discogram, or have negative results but still needed a fusion?

    I am still on the quest to find the source of all my pain, I thought the discogram would have provided the answers but unfortunately it did not.

  • I too have a high tolerance for pain, but I wasn't looking for how bad they can make it, but just the recreation of my daily zingers.

    For me I was looking for the discogram to trigger my familiar pain, the pain I'd get if I moved wrong or sneezed or coughed - did it do that for you?

    Maybe you really were expecting something different?

    It really sucks when you don't get any clues to whats going on and it's just test after test...

  • Sandra,

    That's a crummy deal that your discogram came back negative. I feel like I have a decent pain threshold, but man, when the Dr pressurized my discs...it was off the chart! Now, I didn't scream or cry or anything like that, but it was obvious to the Dr that I was in significant pain. He also asked where my pain was using the 1 to 10 scale after he pressurized each disc and he regularly talked to me throughout the procedure to see how I was doing. Both of the discs he pressurized gave me the same response and because he was able to recreate my pain on my worst days...he referred me to the ortho surgeon.

    Since your discogram is negative then it's probably a good thing your surgeon is not pushing for the fusion. You would hate to have a fusion done, go through the painful recovery, to find out later that your pain is still there. I know back pain sucks, but it's important to really try to find the true source of pain so they can do whatever needs to be done, without putting you through an unnecessary procedure.

    I hope they find your source of pain soon so you can move on with your life.

    Take care,

  • Thanks for the input, I think it reall depends who does the test, I never got asked queestions about my pain exept one time, and no 1-10 scale, or asked how I was doing!!! He didn't tell me when he presurized the disk, I just had lack of communication all around.

    Oh well, and yes Jeff I do not want an unnecessary fusion, it would be difficult for me to undergo such a big surgery right now and taking time off work would be a hardship, so you are absolutely right, I want the tru and accurate diagnosis, he wants me to have a mylegram next, so perhaps that will show where my pain is being generated. How are you doing now since your surgery?

    I never felt pain that made it go off the chart, so it probably truly is negative, but I was in EXTREME amounts of pain immediately after the test, i needed pain meds in my IV in the recovery room.

    Its behind me now, I go on the 23rd Dec for his full report and what the next steps are.

    Have a merry christmas and thanks to all who have replied,
  • I haven't had my surgery yet. It is scheduled for 16 Feb 2010 and I can't wait! I am really nervous and excited at the same time, but my back has been my nemesis for years and I am ready to fight back. I know there is a long recovery, but I I see better times ahead of me.

    Good luck with the mylegram and man, I hope they find something!

    Take care and I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I recently had one and the doctor would continually ask me what I was feeling and when I felt pain I made sure to say "ouch" at varying levels (louder for more pain). If any of the discogram did create the same pain experience be sure to let your doctor know that.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I think you had a better experience than i did with the discogram, I wasn't as prepared I guess and i was not asked about my pain except for one time during the test and I have 5-6 puncture wounds where they went into my spine, it still really hurts 3 days later.

    Jeff, good luck with your up coming surgery, I hope it all goes well for you. Enjoy the holidays while you can, you'll have a long road of recovery ahead of you.

    best wishes
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