Question: Can a myelogram cause lasting problems?

I had a myelogram procedure done three weeks ago in my cervical spine. When the dye was first injected it caused my lower back to throb next to and down into my buttocks. I told the doctor who was doing it that it hurt there and he said that the dye was causing it. Last week I went to my neurosurgeon for the results and asked her about my back. She said sometimes the dye from the myelogram procedure irritates the nerves and it takes them a while to settle down. Just how long do you think it should take? It hurts when I'm walking and if I sit awhile and it just aches down into my buttocks and hips. Also, can nerve damage be done during this procedure and if so how long will it last?

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Doctor’s Response: Current myelogram dyes very rarely cause this effect

As a spine surgeon I have ordered a lot of myelograms in my career as a diagnostic test. They really do not have much chance of causing and damage to the spine, although odd things can happen. I once even had a patient’s pain clear up right after the injection. The dye itself is quickly adsorbed by the body and should not cause pain lasting more than hours to days. This was not true in the 1970’s when an oil based dye was the standard myelogram dye. That type of dye produced a lot of inflammation around the nerve roots that could bring about permanent changes to the nerves. Luckily, a water based dye has replaced this dye.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.