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ouchithurtsoouchithurts Posts: 79
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Lower Back Pain
I am preparing myself for my up coming discogram. I need to hear truths about the pain and how long were you in the hospital? My doc expects me to be in for a couple of days but I heard some only do out patient. I know this test is not a fun one. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!


  • Hello there. I did my discogram as an outpatient. I was given 2 Valium to take on the car ride over (I only took one because I wanted to be able to communicate effectively during the test). I was also given 3 doses of antibiotics. One to take the night before the test, one the morning of, and one the night of.

    When I arrived at the office (where I've had all my injections done) they got me gowned up and started an IV. The nurse ran a dose of antibiotics and then it was off the the sterile room.

    I've layed on tha table 5 or 6 times before but this time was the scariest. Anyway, the doctor cleaned the area as he would if he was doing an ESI. He then inserted 3 epidural needle tube things (L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1). They thought L5-S1 would be the painful disc because it is degenerated so they left that injection for last.

    He injected the dye into L3-L4 and I just barely felt the dye going in. No big deal.

    When he injected L4-L5, I screamed and cursed. If it wasn't for the Valium I probably would've jumped off the table. I know this sounds bad but it was familiar pain. It wasn't anything new.

    When he injected L5-S1 I just felt pressure. No pain

    So, I don't mean to scare you off or anything but the test can be very painful. Just keep in mind that it will be the pain you have known and loved for however long you've been having back problems. It'll just be very intense.

    After the test, they let me sit in a wheelchair with ice on my back for 20 minutes before they sent me home (and they gave me chocolate!). I also brought a percocet from home to take right afterwards.

    Sorry if this was too long for you to read. I'm just telling you everything I wanted to know before I got my discogram. And I also apologize for any spelling errors or strange auto corrections as I am typing on my iPhone.

    Hope I helped :)
  • I also just want to say that the anxiety leadong up to the discogram was worse than the test itself. Also, if for some reason I'd need another discogram, I would not hesitate to get it. This was the definitive test that showed which disc was really causing me pain. Getting an answer after 2 years made a day or 2 of suffering worth it.
  • You shouldn't worry too much about having a discogram. I had mine last December. I wasn't sedated - they gave me a local and then tried injecting fluid into L4/5 and L5/S1. I felt pressure for L4/5 but the doctor injected the whole lot by mistake into L5/S1 which was very painful but only for a few seconds. At least it proved that the problem was with that disc. I rested for about 45 mins afterwards and then was driven home. Was a bit achy for a couple of days but didn't need pain killers. Had no adverse effects.
  • basis .you need to be awake enough to communicate with the consultant that's performing the task .i had one done and even with IV sedation IT HURT LIKE HELL .you wanted the truth .they are designed to hurt so dont be surprised when it does .sorry
    tony {uk}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • hi there ouch,
    my doc ordered one last yr i still have not gone..i must see him in aug. i know he will ordered it again.
    so please let me know how you do..
    i have see a neuro another ortho and both said not ness. to do but no ones coming up with any diagnosis why my legs are in such pain and burning stabbing pain.and feet go numb..
    so i wish you luck and try try stay relaxed.and if you can let me know how ya did and if it showed anything..
    neck,bone spurs pain started 04, back issues and fusion l4,l5 06~hardware removed.
    good few yrs. 09 pain sharp, numbness feet,legs, diagnosed fibro, neurop. legs.lung issues.
    daily goal do good thing for someone.
  • i too was pumped full of antibiotics then you lay on the table,for me my pain was at l5s1 and it was my normal pain intensified greatly,but after living with the pain for years it was worth it,afterwards they gave me a 10 vicoden and i was quite sore for the first 2-3 days then afterwards the pain was just normal.as backache99 said the test is designed to cause pain so if your pain is from a disc then it will HURT,for me the discogram was the only way to find my pain as the mri's and x-rays werent showing much,im now just past a month from L5S1 fusion with screws and doing great my usual pain is very little at times but for the most part gone!im glade that i went threw with the test and surgery.i wish you the best of luck!!
  • I never heard of anyone kept in the hospital for a discogram. Its not surgery its a injection testing procedure not much diferent then when person has nerve block or other injections. Why would they have to keep you in a hospital for this testing procedure. Some dr,s will do it in there office seting who do injections and if in a hospital seting then as an outpatient.
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • I have no idea why he said I may have to stay after the test. He does all his usual injections in the office but he said for this he is putting me in the hospital. I guess he's just being cautious of infection.? I recieved a paper that says I have to be off my meds for 7 days prior to the test but I'm really not sure I can go that long without them. I am hoping it's meant for asprin and such. Whenever I don't take my pain meds I cannot walk, period. The pain is so bad I cannot move my legs.
    I just want to get this over with and done. I really hope they don't try to give me valium, I have adverse reactions to it and I do completely opposite of what it's supposed to do.(talking nonstop, wanting to get up and run around, etc.very hyperactive) Now whenever I think about it my blood pressure does shoot up extremely high whenever I am in pain so that may be why he wants to keep me in. I know whenever he changed my meds and put me on low doses my blood pressure was dangerously high. Also, I have had surgery (breast biopsy) in the past and woke up during the operation. That was a sticky situation for the dr. I remember everything I saw and heard until they got me back out again. I am a strange one when I'm drugged up and it takes ALOT to get me out. The last surgery I had (gall bladder) they decided I wasn't waking up and gave me too much, they almost didn't get me awake again. I am really glad that I will be awake for this for that reason. I cross my fingers I get something for pain afterwards.
    itsbettinaaa, chocolate huh? I would LOVE that!
    It does sound painful and thank you all for the truth. All of you telling me your experience makes me feel more at ease. You all lived to tell about it so I know I can make it. I will fill you in after it's done. Maybe my doc is just taking precautions. I admire him for not just "winging it".
    Thank you all.
  • You can't be pumped up full of pain meds and then expect that test to work. You need to be off the pain killers.

    I got Versed after both tests. It makes you forget about the tests. So you don't remember how much it hurts.

    If you did a search you would find many threads on discograms.
  • because of the risk of osteomyelitis {bone infection} and they use a microscope and die to position the needle .if you read up on discographies they can be very dangerous if given by an inexperienced person {death is even a possibility} when i saw that i can celled mine at first.! just make sure the person doing the procedure is adequately qualified
    tony {uk}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • It is painful but well worth it. I had mine done at 3 levels to verify what disc was the pain source. They wouldn't tell me which 1 they were injecting. The 1st one I just felt pressure(l3-l4). He did the l5-s1 next and I almost came off the table. As the neurosurgeon thought that was the pain generator due to DDD. The l4-l5 had a small amount of pain. As soon as the l5-s1 disc made me jump off the table he reduced the pressure and pushed lidocaine into the disc for relief. I seen the images on fluroscopic xray after he was done. The 2 good disc looked like a cotton ball where the dye was injected. The l5-s1 disc looked ragged like a spider web. That was due to the DDD and the annular tear where the dye had leaked out. I immediately had a CT done afterwards to verify the leaked dye, whiched showed up bright white, I was sore and had cramps for a few days but it was tolerable.. I had l5-s1 TLIF fusion done Jan 2011. I have alot of issues still but they aren't sure why.. I may need a revision due to non union. Good luck!!!!
  • I had my discogram and my doc came to my bedside afterwards and shared my results. My disc at L4/L5 is completely blown out on one side and the goo is oozing out; disc at L5/S1 has a tear inside, bulging and is going to blow any day. I have a followup Monday to find out my options, IF I have any. I have spinal osteoarthritis to deal with along with leg & foot pain. I've had every injection there is, RFA, and PT, so I know those are not going to help. The conservative treatments have been done. I've been in pain a long time (May 2010).

    I want to do my homework before I make any decisions. Anyone have any ideas on what he may offer in treatment? I have read all about treatments for this but I am confused on what works with the back and what won't work with the leg pain etc...

    And just a follow up on the discogram itself...he kept me so drugged that I don't remember the pain but I do remember screaming. I did have ALOT of after pain & still do, but I would do it again if I had to.

  • don't we go through so much 54I7!!!
    back pain and all the prodding and poking and test and more test and injections MRI/CT drugs constipation life changing problems OMG!!!
    we need a medal all of us !! love you all
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • To me, my back problems is the biggest change of life problem I have had. I know some of you did in fact get a medal for it. It's implanted in your backs. I don't want that kind of medal. LOL
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    You know we cant give you accurate medical advice or diagnosis, but from the results of your discogram, I would think your doctor(s) may opt for a more aggressive approach to resolve your problem.

    So much depends on if the disc that is damage is pressing on a nerve root. When there is potential nerve damage, I think most surgeons would opt for the surgery sooner than later.

    There are many people who have blown discs and are being treated using the normal conservative methods (
    Physical Therapy, Aqua Therapy, ESI, Trigger Point Injections, Tens, etc)

    I know for myself, when I have been faced with a problem I've talked to my doctors to understand the pros/cons of having the surgery or not having the surgery.

    If it is having the surgery, then I want to know when do I have to have it? Can I do any damage by waiting?

    If the suggestion is NOT having the surgery, then what are if any long term impacts.

    I've always made sure I had all the facts regarding surgery or no surgery. And if it was surgery, what kind, and I do all my research on that to identify long term impacts.

    Its hard to say which way a doctor will go. Some are more inclined to have surgery sooner and that will be their recommendation. While others will try other methods.

    In either situation, make sure you have your test results and go for a second opinion. Having another pair of medical eyes review your results is important
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I found out that I am being recommended for a double fusion. There are no more conservative treatments for me so I have 2 choices, get the surgery or try to live with it, which I cannot. At this time I am not sure which type of fusion I will be having but as soon as I know I will be doing my homework. I have read the 38 questions to ask your surgeon. I don't think I will have any problems in that area. The surgeon that will be performing the surgery is extemely experienced and I believe he will do a great job. I am just scared. I was hoping it wouldn't come to this but it has. I just want to get it over with even though I know it's alot of work I am sure I will make it.
  • Best of luck. I am sure you will do great. If disc is shot. Fusion posibly is the only option. Besides adr. But i am not one for recomending adr to anyone.
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • The L4/L5 is entirely shot & the one below it looks like a pinched balloon. I got my meds changed again but it doesn't seem to be cutting it. I wake up every 2 hrs or so. What I am afraid of is...does a fusion help the pain or does it simply stop the progress of further deteriorating other discs & spine segments?
  • Unfortunately, my pain wasn't helped much by the fusion, but I did need them to stop the progression. It did help some as I was able to stand straight up again without being curved or bent. The surgery that helped the pain the most was one where my disc had been physically pushed in and was pinching all my nerves against the bone. I still have pain up to a 10 nearly every day. A good day would be a 7 or 8 after meds. But if your back is falling apart, what else can you do? Everyone is different though, and you may be the lucky one! Give me a call, please!

  • Lol black out? I am not sure if would black out no mater how many times pain level reached 10. But 10 level will usualy drop you to the ground or in bed where you poping anything you can reach,

    When i am at 10 valium is only thing keeps me out of er just so i can go to sleep untill pain lets up, Same as going to er and dr dont want anyone to go to er is why they give you what you need,

    And last ortho visit dr says why would you go to er they wont do nothing for you anyways, i thought that was a real ass thing to say me knowing i been there and done that and they did give me something to help the pain,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • As for as a 10, measurement for pain scale, being the worst!!! We're all different, I think. Some people very seldom ever get to 10, and other people do. I had a doctor tell me he tells his patients, to imagine being set on fire, literally your skin burning off!!! But, he went on to say, everyones pain tolerance is different, it's just a measurement! Some people are lucky enough never to have that kind pain. Some people can train themselves to block it all out or some of it. To me, I never try to judge anyone's pain or anything. Because it isn't very nice and I believe God ( sorry,if that bothers anyone) doesn't like it. I try to live by, if you judge, you might have to walk in their shoe's!!!
    And if I ever have that to happen to me, their shoes are alot tougher to walk in. This is just how I think I should be, not anyone else, only me. Jan, I hope and pray you feel better, and your 10 pain, gets to a -0!!! I hope and pray we all get there! Brenda

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