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AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Lower Back Pain

My Dr. just called and said he wanted to schedule a discogram. I have been told I need a 2 level fusion or a disc replacement.

Have any of you had a discogram? What can i expect? What kind of after affects? I have to run a program for the school that night - do I reschedule?

Thanks - this site rocks!


  • I got most of the way through this and hit something on my computer by accident so I may be posting this twice.

    Anway, I had one done Feb 2008 and they do this to see if your disc is bad. If it is bad, you will know it immediately because it is one of the most excrutiating pains I've ever felt. Make sure they give you a sedative before the procedure as they can't put you to sleep. Also take your pain meds with you in case you do have a positive result. I don't mean to scare you, I am just preparing you. You should not plan on doing anything after the procedure for at least that day and night.

    Mine was successful, which means I was in some intense pain. It also flared up the l5 s1 worse than ever before and the pain never subsided so we decided we would do surgery right away except 1 thing....my insurance didn't want to pay for disc replacement so after 3 months of appealing, I finally gave in and had fusion and am still in a lot of pain 5 months post op.

    Everyone reacts differently though. Good luck with yours but make sure you don't have any plans that day afterwards and possibly even the day after that. I had mine done on a Friday and by the following Tuesday I could still hardly walk and ended up going on disability and have been out of work since.
  • Hello, dont hold me to it right before i found out i was pregnant i was suppose to get this test and i never did due to pregnancy at that time. The way it was explained to me is that they inject your bad disc & to be sure some healthy ones to with a dye, while they xray to show the leak light up. and if it is bad i was told by a pm doc they sometimes can seal the disc right on the spot.

    dont hold me to it i may have it confused with a similiar name but i think this is it. And not to scare you i also heard it was very painful. :''(

    I am going this week to the pm doc a new one that does injections and i believe this is on my list also. :SS

    But hey if it helps the pain i will try anything. to resolve some of the problems im going thru.

    Good luck, cant be any worse than what we all experience on our bad pain days right? :<

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  • With discogram was in Feb of this year. It was without a doubt the most painful test I went thru.
    The nurse bolused me with antibiotics and got into a gown .. then we went to the procedure room for the test. They gave me fentynal thru my IV site to relax me. I laid on my stomach and the tst is guided with xray. Doctor told me the test is positive if when he injects the dye mixture it causes pain, if not that disc is considered negative. they did three disc on me, and I kept insisting on more pain meds cause it hurt like hell.They cant knock you out cuz you have to be able to tell them what your feeling. All 3 of my disc were posistive. I was in so much pain they gave another dose of pain med IV before I left. You have to have a driver and then I went to the hospital for scans of my disc. I pretty much slept the rest of the day.. so if you have anything planned, it probably needs to be cancelled. Hope this helps! Good luck to you!
  • I was laid up for about 3-4 days. They recreate the pain so they know what is what as stated above. BUT I would clear your schedule for a couple days just incase you pain continues at a high level for a few days. AND YES HAVE A DRIVER!!!! The procedure itself doesn't take that long at least. But you will be out of it for a while, so go home and sleep!!! Good luck!!!
  • Thanks everybody....yikes, now i am freaking out. I know this needs to be done, and yes, i am used to the pain - i guess i will reschedule my event for that night.

    I'm so glad I found you all, this site has been so helpful!

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  • I've had 2 of them: Nov 07 and Oct 08

    Here's the nitty gritty of my experience: laid on my belly, hooked up to monitors, given Verced; nurse placed pillow alongside my belly and chest and moved me slightly onto myside; doctor talks and walks you through the VERY PAINFUL procedure--right up there with childbirth pain levels. They will test your questionable levels, then one other for comparison. They inject large needles into your back and you must try as hard as possible to stay still through the pain.

    Nov 07 test was extremely painful but not as painful as Nov 08. My guess is because I had been on narcotics (tramadol/percocet) for 2 months prior and this probably helped with some of the pain but maybe did not give accurate result which was + at L5-S1 and - for L4-L5. Sadly enough both levels were herniated but surg could not fuse both cuz discogram showed negative on one, so insurance would only approve fusion for one level.

    In preparation for Nov 08 test, I (with knowledge of having done this prior and being denied a double fusion) gradually lowered the pain med dosages and then temporarily stopped the pain meds (still took my prozac and valium for anxiety depression)...the most EXCRUCIATING :''( pain ever but this is the point, to determine exact location of pain and to verify and/or validate the radiologist's and/or surgeon's interpretation of other scans (MRI, CT)...and afterwards when you receive your result (usually before you go home after procedure), you feel a huge sense of relief because at least in my situation, I was validated in how much daily pain I have been in for a long time. This time both levels proved positive and now surgeon recommends PLIF at both levels.

    Unfortunately before my first one in Nov 07, I talked to people for whom the procedure did NOT hurt or they didn't feel the pain (said that Verced made them sleepy, so woke up during pain but did not remember--this was NOT AT ALL my experience!); in hindsight, now, I should have just realized that it's a pain inducing procedure, so it WILL hurt if you are indeed having pain on a daily basis.

    My best advice: take as little pain meds prior to the procedure as you can stand. And know that, although the entire prep takes a while (30 minutes), the actual pain inducing part lasts for a very little time (doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt just that it doesn't go on forever!)...but be prepared to have pain meds immediately thereafter. The first time, I was in so much pain that the doc gave me a shot of fentynol (sp?). The second time, I assumed he would do the same, so I did not bring along Perocet--however, he had some issue with his wife being in the emerg room and the nurse would not contact him as they had done a year prior...so I rode home, reclined in the bucket seat with my hubby, in excruciating pain...the Nov 07 pain subsided after a few days. After the second one done last month (10/22/08), the pain lasted for close to 9 days.

    Good luck and just make sure you do yourself a favor by not taking pain meds prior to test so that you get a true result and can get appropriate treatment. It's rough but you will get through it--and don't be afraid to DEMAND X( pain (IV or shot) meds immediately thereafter.

    Hope this was not too repetitive--happy to answer any other questions about this test or other.

  • My opinion is to reschedule the procedure. It is painful and it does take that day and another to feel better. I have a high pain tolerance and it still hurt a lot. Get someone to drive you and take your meds as you will need them. My neuro surgeon said it is not necessary because an MRI should show you everything you need except in special cases. Good thing I found that out after I had the procedure:) Trust the posts, reschedule it for over the weekend or when you have a couple of days to rest. Good Luck
  • As stated above, if there are no problems with your discs you will most likely be in minimal pain during and after the discogram. But if there are discs causing pain it will be very painful and take days to get over it.

    I had a discogram in Aug. and two out of four discs they tested were extremely painful (I had no idea pain could be that bad), but immediatly after the process was done they gave me IV drugs and I was fine. Afterwards I slept for the rest of the day and felt pretty good when I woke up. The next day however I was in elevated pain and this lasted for a few weeks with me. I was still able to work, but my back was very stiff and tender.

    I was put to sleep for this test and once the needles were in place they woke me up to do the test. Because of this, the discogram was much easier that I had thought it would be, due to the immediate IV meds. Good luck with this and the information that is found will determine what surgery is needed.

    Take care and let us know how it goes. Mitch.
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