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Disc Inflation Test?????

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am 17 days post op from a lumbar laminectomy/discectomy L4/5. It didn't work, and the pain is worse. I had another MRI with contrast dye and sure enough, the bulge is worse. I have lost some feeling and use of my left foot and leg, so he wants the ALIF done as soon as possible. We wants me to have a disc inflation test done first, to make sure he doesn't miss any of the surrounding areas that may need to be fused as well. I'm waiting for the pain management specialist to call me to set up the appointment. All my ns told me was that it is VERY painful. I was in such a daze in the office, I didn't think to ask anything about it; I just nodded my head. My husband said it was disc inflation or something like that. My doctor's office is closed and I would like to research this before Monday. I can't find any info on it anywhere. If anyone knows what this is, PLEASE give me details. I'm a little freaked out about it.



  • Sounds like a "discogram".
    Sometimes called "discography".

    Usually these are done before any surgery.

    Basically, they are looking for pain generators and by process of elimination, ruling out other sources.

    Some physicians will not give you any kind of meds for the procedure.
    Some will give an oral sedative only. Some give I.V. sedation with "versed" or some sedative.
    Hopefully not too much, because you need to be awake, lucid, and clear so as to give accurate feedback.
    (it is possible to give a "false positive" or a "false negative" in this procedure)

    A local anesthetic is introduced ahead of the needle's approach. They purposely don't anesthetize the disc itself or surrounding nerves.
    You will be on a flouroscopy table.

    They will advance the needle an increment and then step out of the immediate area while the picture
    (x-ray) is taken. Then they step back in.
    This is repeated over and over until the needle reached the disc.
    Then, they inject dye. Either you will feel pressure or pain and they will be asking you which.
    Some patients get no sedation and when they find the pain generator, the person will just about jump off the table.
    Immediately, they will follow the dye with a med to kill the pain. It is not uncommon for the nerve to remain angry for some time after.

    This whole procedure is repeated on as many discs as they need.

    I've had 2 discograms with I.V sedation, barely remember them, and were done prior to surgery.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Now that I have the correct terminology I can research it a bit. I hope the doc I go to gives me sedation; that way it may be like the spinal injections where you're only aware if they hit the right spot. I've come out of the procedure room crying, but not remembering much.
    Thanks Again,
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  • that it is a discogram as Paul said. The test is designed to show where things are going wrong and where you are having pain. I was knocked out for mine and I have no reccolection of it. When they woke me up afterwards it was like they had given me laughing gas, I was in the best mood asking to do it again...wierd I know.
    Later that day it was painful as they had inflamed everything in my back but the pain (without pain medication, my own choice) went away by that night. I had it done around ten in the morning and by midnight I was pretty much out of pain with mild discomfort. I would make sure this is the right test though because I have never heard it called inflation. I have heard of rehydration of a disc but it does sound like a discogram by what you described.
  • Perhaps my doctor is just the slightest bit of a sadist }:) or a purist as they might say in more polite circles. My disogram was without sedation. It is not a nice experience. I had two discs in question ... L5 S1 was gone ... bone on bone. Hard to argue that it needed fusing. L4 L5 showed issues but it was difficlt to tell how bad it was from the MRI and my symptoms. The disogram confirmed that when under pressure / rehydration / inflation, it caused significant pain ... not as much as L5 S1 bu significant nonetheless. So the discogram was a really bad experience sober HOWEVER, I am not sure we would have done a two level fusion without the insight it provided. That would have meant that in a year we would have likely been looking at another fusion procedure. I am pretty new to these boards but this fusion was my fourth major surgery L) (not all spinal) in three years. My goal is to really stop having so much surgery ... however, my husband says he is starting to look at this as a bottoms up restoration ;).

    Just remember you can get through anything ... the pain from the fusion is brief but intense if no sedation. And it is always better to have more data than less!

    Good luck to you!
  • Last monday I went for a consult with the anestesiologist / pain mngt doc who is going to perform my discogram hopefully sometime next week. He explained to me I will be in a "twighlight" sleep and they will bring me in and out as needed.Also, because of the risk of infection, the do give you a dose of antibiotic via your IV line. I was really nervous at first but I keep telling myself that it cant be any worse then the pain I feel on a regular basis. Good Luck with the test.
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  • I have had every test imagineable before they finally did a discoram. The first one was not bad. They asked if i needed a shot for pain and I said no. Big mistake. It stirs up the pain for several days. Long story short, I had to have another one because the first was not done completely enough for my insurance co. Dont remember any pain, dont remember the test much at all. but it was good casue it definently showed tears inn 3 discs. That was enough for the insurance comapny to finally give me my fusion after 2 and 1/2 years of trying to figure out what was wrong. Nothing showed on myleograms, mris, cts, and the lot. I had 2 level fusion on Dec 11. Discs were in bad shape so I am hoping to get my life back.
  • Shelley, I can only answer about how my discogram was for me four years ago. I had it performed by a radiologist who did not allow ANY sedation AT ALL. I honestly believe that I will never experience any pain more horrible than I did during that test, and I've had my share of pain over the years. Holy Toledo, I think that a civil War soldier getting his leg sawed off in the middle of a pasture did not feel that way...but, I did live, and he told his assistant to give me a shot of morphine right afterwards...which must have been water as it did absolutely nothing for the pain. They made me wait 4 hours before leaving and would not give me anything else for the pain until "that magic 4 hour mark". It was 6 days before I could stand up straight and then my pain was finally back to what it was before the test. I'm not trying to scare you, and the test was necessary for them to find out which disk was bad...but I do know that I will never have another one done for any reason...that's just my story...I wish you luck, and I hope it's a positive result.
  • I had sedation during my discography and, while they wake you up a bit to test where the pain is, you're soon relaxed again, once they're sure where it's coming from. The problem comes later -- you are likely to experience lots of pain once the sedation wears off. There is, apparently, quite a bit of controversy as to whether or not these tests really show just where the pain is located. Heck -- they could see I had three badly torn discs and, even though they did lots and lots of tests to locate the pain, in the end, they had to remove the three discs, put in dowels and grafts, and spackle everything together for a fusion. I think they could have done that just as well without inflicting the extra pain.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hi Shelly,

    I had a discogram done on my neck and yes it is pain ful. I was given a small amount of versed and something else but to be quite honest I could not even tell I had anything.

    I talked at great length with my PM doc about this test becasue of the fact first brought up by paul..
    This test can give a false positive result.

    I asked my PM doc what do I as the patient need to try and think about and remember while being given the test inorder to avoid this false positive...

    We discussed the difference of the pain from the application of the needles into your spinal discs and the pain generated from that part.

    As opposed to the pain I feel on an every day basis.

    The point of this procedure is to re-create your everyday pain.

    For me it was quite easy to tell the difference between the pain of the needles beingput in and left in my neck and cervical discs....from the pain of the inflation of my cervical discs...

    When they flooded the discs with the solution I was shocked when it really did recreate the Exact symptoms i have on a daily basis...

    I hope I did not scare you with my wording and all, but I hope that I have helped you to better understand the difference of the pain from the procedure and the recreation of you everyday pain symptoms...this is what my PM discussed with me to help to not have a false positive test...

    Please feel free to pm me if you would like to discuss this or need any further support!
    Remember that i am not a doc and all I share is from my own personal experiences and everyone is different and everyone's body process's things differently...

    All my best.
    Misty Spirit!

    Ps Please excuse my computer..I am having a problem with the space bar and I do try to go back and correct the issues, but I occassionaly miss a few...
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