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Discogram Questions-Please Hurry Test Tomorrow

MrsWingsMMrsWings Posts: 17
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Pain Management
:S :S :S :S

I am having a discography first thing tomorrow morning. Of course I have been doing a ton of research online about it, but most of the information is really pretty general... this happens, then that, then that, etc...

I want to know from someone that has had the test what to expect. I don't want anymore smoke blown up my skirt. I know its going to hurt, and I know basically what to expect during the test. My questions are: how many disks to they test usually at one time... how long does the test take... do they keep you awake or use pretty good medicines to keep you more unaware of the pain... how long does the test take ???

If they find an issue with a disk what next.. is there some surgical procedure to fix the disks... if you already have had a fusion do they have to go in from the front of your body (something I heard). I had a fusion at the L4 L5 level, what if I have to have a fusion above that, how does a person function with more levels fused.

I am really scared about this test. Not sure what they will find and/or what will be done to fix it. Any information will be appreciated. Thanks so much...



  • I have had this done twice with the same doctor. His procedure is to test only 2 levels at a time with a control disk as well (one that he knows is not damaged, makes it 3 separate spots).

    My doctor gives a little bit af relaxing meds and a tiny bit of pain meds but that is it. No sense in getting rid of the pain since that is how they measure your response, lol. My procedure itself only took about 15 minutes (thats the painful part), getting to the OR, being hooked up, cleaning the area, banadaging etc, made my total time in the OR was about an hour. The procedure itself was some numbing meds at each level, then filling the disk at each level with saline to reproduce pain, then filling a little more with contrast dye to cause pressure. Afterwards, I made my way to CT for the secondary imaging portion to see how much leaked out, I have no clue as to weather all doctors do this or not.

    Its kind of like childbirth. It is painful but goes away quickly. I spent about an hour in the same day procedure unit, was given pain meds at that time and then was able to leave once I used the restroom. I was sore for a few days but not much more than a typical bad day. My first time I actually went to a graduation party that night and was OK.

    All depending on your results is what comes next. My disc was like swiss cheese and leaked everywhere. They couldnt reproduce my pain at that level since they couldnt raise the pressure, this led me to the fusion surgery. Other than that they had mentioned other procedures after my first discograms, but that was years ago,lol.

    I am sure you will do fine. Keep everyone posted on how it goes.

    Take Care,

  • Hopefully they put you out while the set up the needles in your back. Thats they way I had it done and the proceedure itself was not bad (except for the 5 seconds of the most pain I have ever been in). It did put me in pain for a couple of weeks after.

    I'm still waiting to see what the results mean for me.
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  • Well I sure don't want to ever have that done again, ever. When I got there they started my IV just like you mentioned Shell, same as if I was having epidural injections, only difference is that I had to have a small bag of antibiotics run through before I even was taken into the OR.

    The medication was administered to make me go to sleep for the most part until the 4 needles were inserted into the disks. Then they started to bring me back out of it so that I could let them know how it felt each time they injected the dye into a disk. The first 2 higher up were ok, but man-o-man when he hit that third disk I thought I was dying, at least I wished I was and that it would go quickly. The pain was the most intense thing I have ever felt in my life, after the pain I felt yesterday, I feel ashamed for complaining of pain when I had my kids, this discography made that look like a walk in the park (for me).
    Then they had one more disk to do, and it was much the same as the one before. Once that was done they took me straight to CT for that scan which only took a few minutes really, but seemed like a lifetime since I couldn't have any pain medications till I got back to my room so that I could be monitored (due to the pain meds being narcotic)
    I was kept in my room for about an hour and then was told I could go home anytime I felt good enough to get up. I did have to use a wheel chair to get out to my car. I was pretty weak from crying and shaking so much in pain.

    When I got home I went straight to lay down and every step to my room was excruciating, even after having pain meds. I had the most ungodly spinal headache. I was up a few times during the day, just to get something to drink, go to the bathroom or stretch for a bit. The headache kept me from wanting to do anymore then that. I'm up this morning and still having a pretty hard time moving around at much more then a turtles pace. I shuffle more then take real steps.

    I have a med check set up for tomorrow, which was set a few weeks ago already, but the timing couldn't be better since I will get the results of my CT at the same time, and we will discuss where to go from here. The Dr had talked to my boyfriend who went with me about Good News-Bad News but he really didn't understand it all. The Dr said something either about a spinal cord stimulator or pain pump, not sure as the doc and I discussed both... will know more after my appointment tomorrow morning on that one.

    As I sit here and write this I am so worried that my experience will scare the next person who may have to go through this test... that is not my intention, and how I felt is not necessarily how the next person will feel. We all have different thresholds for pain, Dr.'s use different medications and ways of doing the test. So, please, please if you do have to have this test, don't put it off based on my experience, its a good test to find out whats going on. After living in pain for so many years I can finally cry tears of joy that someone finally knows what is causing the pain and can do something about it. This is very much like Shell says, like childbirth and worth it for the results... at least for me.

    I will post again when I know for sure where my path goes from here, either way I expect today to be another slow day for me. Have to run to the pharmacy to get more meds, some antibiotics to take for a week yet. I do try to get into the chat here on the site, catch me there for real time updates... LOL

    I think I'm seeing the light at the end of my tunnel...

    #:S :< #:S

  • theresa- I've had spinal headaches and I thought my head was going to explode. I could not even lift my head up. I was told to increase fluid and caffeine intake. The dr said the caffeine would help constrict blood vessels. I have had a blood patch and a caffeine IV infusion before but it sounds like they are not worried about doing that. I agree that a discogram is something I don't want to repeat unless totally and absolutely necessary.Good luck at the drs office and that you get some answers post-discogram..take care. jade
  • Jade, I did the caffine thing and it helped alot with the headache... laying down and just being still in a dark room helped too. I am really anxious to go to the Dr office in the morning, I am hoping for some good news about how to help ease this pain. I really hope that he will offer either a pain pump or at the least a spinal cord stimulator.. will post again as soon as I get home to let all know what is up. For now they have doubled all my pain meds for the next two weeks (except the morphine) and added naproxin. So I am pretty loopy and have had to type and re type several lines of this post so that it makes sense. I best get to laying down now since I am so out of it...

    Good luck to all, I will keep you in my prayers.
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  • Theresa~I want to apologize for not responding to your initial post asking about what to expect. As I'm sure many here can attest to, I am the type that is brutally honest, and I sat here for several minutes trying to think of a way to word a response to you that would help to calm you, yet truthfully answer your questions/address your concerns. I was afriad that all I would do is freak you out and cause you to be uber-nervous leading up to the time of your test. I felt that would be doing you a great disservice as you had enough to worry about as it was. I sincerely felt the best response you could get from me was no response.

    I'm glad to hear they seem to be addressing your increased pain so well-heck my Dr didn't increase any of my meds and while I was sedated, it obviously wasn't as well as you were! I'm jealous! LOL ;)

    It's great that you have your appt to get your results so quickly and don't have to wait for weeks like I did. I think the worry and waiting was just as bad as the pain of the test! :S

    Please do let us know what they found and how you're planning to treat the problem(s), OK?

    Take it easy for a couple more days and I'm sure after that you'll begin feeling much better.

    Take care.
  • Well I went in for my med check (Wednesday) and they discussed the discography with me. They said they could/would normally do a spinal cord stimulator, but would really like for me to go back to my surgeon to see if the disk issues are repairable or not. My new fears are will I have to have another fusion at a higher level, will they suggest disk replacement, can they do anything at all ???

    I really don't want to have a major fusion surgery again, and the disk replacement I don't know enough about yet to make any thoughts on that yet. So if anyone here has had that I sure would like to learn more about it.

    For now, I take my meds and manage as best as I can. Every day continues to be as much a challenge as the one before. I just hope that the Dr.'s I am putting my trust in wont mislead me for the almighty dollar.

    Will let ya know how things turn out and what offers are made, and what direction I am being told is best for "me".

    Take care ya'll....
  • Why is this test performed? I havent heard of it.

    I am seeing a new physician at my PM clinic. When he saw how much distress I was in last week, he wanted to take over my case and get a little more aggressive. I have no idea what he has in store for me, but want to know as much as I can before going in.

    So if you can, let me know why this test is performed and what they are looking for. Thanks so much. And I am glad to posted the honest experience on here.
    Hope you are feeling better.

  • Alina,

    As stated above, I recently had a discogram. It is my understanding that a discogram is useful when an MRI or other tests dont show exactly where the pain is comming from. In my case, I have multiple bulging discs, DDD and one annular tear, but nowhere on the MRI shows obvious nerve inpengment.

    My doctor suspected that the pain was comming from the disc with a tear in it and the discogram confirmed it. Now this information can be used to determine where a fusion or other prceedures should be done with confidence they are treating the right area. Good luck with everything and take care, Mitch.
  • Your both right on several areas... I did a search right here on spine-health and found on the following page some really good information...


    it show a little video about how it is done. I had gone thru about every other test and pain procedure that they new to try. This was a last effort to try to find out as well where my pain was stemming from... Like Mitch says, not everythng will show on all tests (MRI-CT-CT Mylogram) I had to be honest as I wanted everyone to know worst case. Even tho it was painful some of the tears I cried that day were tears of relief... I have suffered with this pain since 1989 when I fell off a semi truck. So this has been a long time coming, and such a relief. I actually thanked my doctor for doing this test that was so painful, but so productive....Was a blessing for me to finally have answers.

    Another great site that tells a little about the next step for me (spinal cord stimulator) is at

    *****BE WARNED***** this video shows many parts of the actual procedure and placement and is somewhat graphic... may not be suitable for kids or those with weak stomachs. Again as uncomfortable as this will be, I cant wait to try as I know someone that has one and she swears it has given her a life of her own again... Will keep ya'll posted here as to whats going on and how it works/doesn't work...

    Please be aware, I will always tell it like it is (for me) I hate when my Dr.'s in the past have blown smoke up my skirt and told me half truths... so I don't do it to you either. Remember, what works for one, doesn't work for everyone and we all will have different perceptions and levels of pain tolerance...

    You all will continue to be in my prayers...
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