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Discogram Complications

In our ongoing search for something to help my son's back, we're considering a rather new treatment for Internal Disc Disruption and Annular Tears. As part of the process he wil need to have a discogram done. I've heard so many horror stories about discograms - specifically the risk of developing Arachnoiditis as a result of the contrast used. I guess I'd just like to hear from you guys regarding any experiences or information you might have about the potential hazards of discograms. We definitely don't want to jump from the frying pan into the fire with any procedure, but don't want to miss out on a treatment that could help significantly. Thank you!


  • The odds of developing Arachnoiditis from a discogram is slim. To contract chemically induced arachnoiditis, the needle needs to enter the spinal cord leaving the dye or preservatives or whatever within the spinal cord fluid. Can the doctor mess up and miss, yeah and that would be the risk. I currently have arachnoiditis and had it we suspect when I had my discogram. I was still within the early stages of the disease then so its very difficult to diagnose. My nerves really became inflamed after that for several months. Good luck to your son.

  • even though i was slightly sedated and the discography was done by the consultant .it hurt like hell.i was in agony for the next few days .not a nice thing to have done .make sure that you rest afterwards ..don't try to brave it and do normal things you will make it worse .
    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
  • Thank you so much for responding to my post. I really appreciate the information. Good luck to you as well.
  • lcarpenterlcarpenter Posts: 119
    edited 06/21/2012 - 12:31 PM
    Thank you so much for responding to my post. Your information is very helpful - they don't always tell you those things at the doctor's office :)
  • Discograms are pretty painful, but I think most docs require them before any major treatment. I had to have one before my surgery. They already knew I had three ruptured discs, but they just wanted to be sure where the pain was coming from. Well, the way they find that out is to make you sleepy, inject stuff so they can see better, and then try to cause pain in different areas so they can see which one makes you yell the loudest. Sad, but true. Fortunately, although we all remember the test as being painful, the patient is fairly well sedated and the pain is brief. It does last long in the memory, however!
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thank you for the info Isteller. He's had several radiofrequency ablations which required him to be sedated but awake. So I'm guessing this is rather similar. I'm not as worried about the pain as I am about long-term effects - of course I'm not the one going through it! It's just so hard making decisions that affect someone else (someone you love). If it was a decision I was making for myself I wouldn't be nearly as worried. I'm still not sure what we'll do. We consult with the doctor on July 16 & I guess we'll make a decision after that.
  • lcarpenterlcarpenter Posts: 119
    edited 08/30/2012 - 12:15 PM
    My son had his discogram today. Results were very clear according to his doctor. He has Internal Disc Disruption with several Annular tears in two discs L5/S1 & L4/5. He was in a lot of pain immediately after the procedure and his back is really sore (can't bend over), but he seems to be doing really well & a lot better than I expected several hours later. Much better than after his RFAs. So glad to finally really know what has been causing all this pain for four years now. Have nothing but good things to say about his doctors! Now on to treatment :).
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