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discogram. before surgery?

salty444ssalty444 Posts: 149
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
How many of you had to go through a discogram before their surgery? I was told that I need on on 3 lumbar levels. After reading horror stories I am terrified about the discogram.....

Can you give a brief description of your experience if you had one


  • I had one on Jan. 12.. It is a last step for my dr. before surgery.. It was painful when they got to the disc that was bad.. The other parts weren't to bad.. Most people don't remember it but unfortunately I do.. Very well.. It is a great test to have so that you know excatly what is going on and on what disc.. I hope you get the answers you need..
  • it twice. Only because the first place I went didnt record the pressures they found on the disc. It wasnt the worst thing I have ever been through. They give you some medicine to keep you calm and they put the needles in your disc and add pressure and dye. They do all the needles at one time, then do the discs one by one. You wont know which disc they are doing, If it isnt torn or herniated it will not feel bad. It only feels bad if the disc is bad. Then after they are done they do a CT scan and see what they dye shows. It hurts for a little bit when they add pressure to the bad disc, but not very long, Afterwards, it does give you back pain worst for a few days.
    I had three torn discs and I dont remember it being something that awful. Dont be that scared. I had a SI joint injection, and that was more painful. Good Luck, Robin
  • I had a discogram in October '09. My experience in a nutshell:

    Showed up to the hospital for an 'outpatient' procedure. It was my first time for anything like this, so I was really super nervous (especially after all the horror stories I read online too). I told the nurses and anyone who would listen how scared I was, and they all assured me they would take great care of me. After waiting for what felt like forever (my doctor was running 2 hours late!), a nurse started an IV on me. Then, an anesthesiologist came in, introduced himself and told me and he was going to give me something to make me 'sleepy' and 'feel good'. Boy, he wasn't lying! After just a few minutes i started to feel really woozy, I could barely keep my eyes open. I laid back and fell asleep.

    Then I woke up, they must have put something in my IV to "bring me back", though I was still feeling a little out of it. I looked around and I was in the operating room, laying on my stomach. My pain management doctor was standing to my right and he introduced himself. He told me that he would be injecting dye into 3 of my discs. Two of them were to test my disc problems, and the third level (disc) was going to be tested as a "control", since it was a healthy disc. He told me that when he put pressure in the two damaged discs it was going to HURT. He asked me to tell him on a scale from 1-10, one being it didn't hurt at all and 10 being the same as the horrible back pain I experienced at home, how badly it hurt when he injected each level.

    To be honest, it hurt. Bad. Probably the worst pain of my life. BUT.... it only hurt for a few seconds. As soon as I told him how badly it hurt from 1-10 and if it was the same pain I had previously at home... the anesthesiologist put pain relief in my IV and I did not feel that pain anymore at all. I don't want to lie to you though, when he did hit those damaged nerves with the dye I was crying & screaming like a baby, they had to put tissues under my mouth & nose because I was crying and slobbering all over. I was an emotional wreck.

    After the procedure was done (the dye injecting only took about 15 minutes), I was able to scoot over onto a gurney without much pain at all. They wheeled me into the CT scan room to take some images while the dye was still in me I think. By that time the pain was pretty much totally gone, and I wasn't crying anymore. In fact, I was smiling and joking around with the nurse guy who wheeled me around. So that horrible, terrible pain that you feel while they inject you during the procedure really only lasts as long as you are on the operating table.

    You may be sore & have increased back pain for a while after the procedure, just because they messed a lot with your discs. I'm really glad I had mine done though, and I feel really grateful that my pain management doctor was so vocal & explained everything as he did it.

    Good luck!
  • I barely remeber the two I had.(they administered me some good drugs LOL)

    The first time I had it, it was done in the late morning. I do faintly recall waking up real groggy and them asking if I felt any pain. I did feel discomfort, but right away they numbed it out.
    Then, I went into the CT tube, then had surgery.

    The second time(a year later, on a different disc), I had the disco one day, then surgery the next. That one I do not remember!
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I am sorry that your pain was so bad.. But I am glad to know that I am not the only one who cried like a baby.. I never went to sleep but none of the other pokes and stuff hurt but I didn't get a pre warning that the dye was going in and all of a sudden I was in pain and screaming at my dr... Lol.. They gave me pain meds in my disc instead of through my iv and my pain meds didn't help me.. So I am jealous that you got the good stuff.. I also had a 4 hour drive home and I wouldn't recommend anyone else do that.. It was painful but better then being in labor.. Ha ha ha
  • Had one on 10/01/09. I will never have another. I know they tell you take none of your reg meds, When they tell me that I always take something mild because I know it will be bad. I did have mild IV sedation as well. And told nurse and physician of my intense terror of this procedure. They were kind enough to up the Versed, but that did not help really. When they got to the L4/5 I was short of screaming. I cried like a baby. The pain was awful after for about 4-5 days. I don't want to scare you but you asked and I wish I knew how bad it was and I would have drugged up more and lied to them. Believe me a morphine pump wouldn't have put much of a dent in that pain.

    The test was helpful but it really is archaic and controversial.

    Best of Luck,
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I had two recently.

    They gave me a little bit of versed via IV to relax me but you have to be conscious enough to tell them what hurts and where and to what degree. But versed gives you some relaxation. Then at the conclusion of the discogram I was given some fentanyl via IV (I am allergic to demerol which is more often used).

    I would say the actual pain during the discogram is "in the moment" when they are trying to find the source of your pain. I was sore for a day after, just felt as if I had a deep bruise (though there was none, but that's how I describe the pain the next day).

    Just ask if they'll give you a touch of versed to help relax you and then some pain meds right after.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • They must have changed the test. They didn't give me anything or do it differently where I'm at in Atlanta in 08, they didn't give me anything for sleepy or sedation or to feel good, NOTHING. Just numbed the site with a topical. I trying to remember if they gave me versad but they had a IV in but nothing else, I could be wrong. I had this stupid PA that had the worst bedside manner going. She was teaching somebody else saying this has got to be one of the most painful tests because we don't give pain-killers during it. I was like thanks like your really helping. The test wasn't that bad he hit a nerve when the needle went in, but at the time my disk was still in decent condition. Its a easy test, if your disk is in good condition, its not that painful, if its not, can be a different story. In Lamens terms their trying to make your disk mad. Kind of a mideval test. I was glad when it was over. One part of back surgery they need new techniques.

    I also think they should change the name, Discogram sounds like DISCO, my mother works for surgeon and she was like, trust me is not fun. :(

    Good Luck. ;)
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