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Had a Discogram lately?? Need your input

SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everyone:

When I met with the surgeon this week I thought we'd solidify the plan for a 360 fusion (L3-S1). But he said he previously thought a discogram wasn't necessary but he'd like to do one to have all the information he can. With the stainless steel used in my 1993 L4-S1 fusion all CT's, myelograms, and MRI's just are not really clear though we think we know what is going on in there.

The last discogram I had was in 1992 and was done almost like an outpatient procedure with some versed for relaxation. My Pain Management doctor's office does the discogram so I'll have it done there in their procedure suite. They say no versed but I think I talk him into a smidge toward the end. Then to the hospital for a CT right after the discogram.

So, after all that, the basis of my question is - have you had one lately? any sedation? how did it go? did it show what was really going on in your spine or did they find more during surgery? (this last question is really important to me).
2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 


  • had one done at my PMs surgery center. It was done under live xray. I was given Fentanyl and Versed. He did find my annular tear from the discogram and it did confirm which discs were the most painful. I hope that helped you. Good luck and let us know how you make out.
  • I DID have sedation, but not Versed, because I'm allergic to it. They put me out (or at least I felt out) and then woke me when the injected the dye and pressure to check the load on the discs. Due to my screaming, they quickly put me out again. I was fairly relaxed when I woke up and went directly to another facility for the CT. While you often hear that the discograms are painful and unnecessary, mine did show that all three of my discs were torn straight through the annulus on both sides from left to right. This, of course, caused my surgeon to decide she couldn't operate on me because I had too many damaged levels. I fortunately found someone who would operate and I'm much better off now. I hope your doc will give you some sedation. I'm not sure how much damage you have or how painful your procedure will be, but I still fully remember mine.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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  • I had a Discogram in August with no sedation. They checked three levels. It was painful, but though I found myself biting my fist, it wasn't horrendous, and soon over. Results meant Surgeon was confident to fuse at just one level rather than three, so I think it was worthwhile. Good luck with it though. I know it's worse for some than others.
  • I had a discogram this year with just fentanyl for sedation. It honestly was not that bad. It obviously hurt pretty bad when they hit the bad disc, but I don't remember much of it.

    They did find an annular tear that did *not* show up on my MRI. Based on what they found in the discogram I was able to have minimally invasive IDET surgery to repair the disc rather than a bigger surgery, so it was definitely worth it.
  • They did give me a mild sedation, not sure what, but not much as they wanted me to be able to tell them how I felt. They found the three discs with tears in them, so I found them priceless for the results. My insurance co made me repeat it because it had not been recorded pressures. So I had to go to MPLS MN and repeat it at their expense. That was 12,000.00. And they wonder why insurance keeps going up. The fist test was 3000.00 and they repeat it for 12,000 and get the same result..Fusion no matter. Sorry, get off my soapbox now.
    The second one did show that two discs were in worse shape and led to a two level instead of a three level. For that I was thankful..It is not a painless procedure, but it isnt bad until they hit the discs that are problems. That bad pain is only momentary and then it goes back to normal. The test irritates the bad discs which increases pain, for a day or two.
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  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Thank you all for your input. I recently had a SI ablation and I "know" it was painful but thanks to versed I don't really remember the pain in terms of feeling it...I just remember saying "ouch".

    I will ask them up front to do a small dose to relax me just a bit. I have a high tolerance for versed these days so the last time I had some the staff was stunned I was awake and conversing so freely. They finally agreed maybe I needed some more.

    Hopefully this puts an end to the investigation and we can then get on with the treatment. I should know more soon. I hope the PM office will give me the results, at least from what they see, and I see the surgeon 12/1. I can just feel that something needs to be done surgically - thank goodness for LTD as I keep getting paid benefits while this all happens.

    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I had a discogram done last month. I was terrified. I'd never had any type of sedative before and I am so scared of anything that involves an IV. I made sure to tell the nurses and anyone else that I was terrified, so they were extra gentle with me. They even numbed my hand before inserting the IV. I will say that I was extra sore for a few weeks after the discogram, but not all people have that happen.

    I don't know what they put in my IV to sedate me, but I wasn't all the way out. I could feel the pain and talk to them, and I vaguely remember bits and pieces of it. I was crying a lot during the procedure. Then as soon as it began it was done. Now, I barely remember the pain. Whatever they gave me worked well.

    I know it will be painful but I would get another in a heartbeat. If you do indeed feel pain then it will be so very helpful in figuring out which disc is bothering you. I have 2 herniations but only had surgery on 1 of them because of my discogram results.

  • I had one this past July. It was necessary for insurance purposes, so they would approve my fusion.

    I won't lie: it is painful, but not for too long. I wasn't given any anti-anxiety meds. They sedate you for a short while, then wake you so you can tell them when you feel pain.

    When all is done they will inject a pain killer into the discs. The rest of the day was great because I was pain free for the first time in a very long time.

    However, once the meds wore off, major pain. Make sure they give you painkillers. I was hurting for the next 10 days. Ice helped, and rest.

    The discogram told my surgeon that 85% of the pain was coming from one disc and 15% fromn another disc.
    I can't think of anything else to add. Good luck.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    In 2002 I had one after I had a mri that clearly showed I was in need of a 3 level fusion. But I can read a blue print and an mri or any other imaging is a blue print "very technical" of my spine. And it was also very clear that the disc adjacent "above" was not healthy enough to support the weight transfer. It was way lessor in height than any other good disc in my spine. I asked that it be fused all so because it would go out under the pressure once the 3 levels were fused. But they did a disco gram. And it showed that, that disc was not bad enough to have to be legally done.
    In 10 months that disc failed under the weight. So I had to go through another fusion. And same thing the next disc was damaged, but not enough to "medically have to fuse it. So they didn't
    Now guess what, that disc lasted 2 yr. And same thing!!!!
    A discogram just shows the insurance co. how much they don't have to do. Even though it would make perfect sense to do it. And get it over with.
    But I think they are just hoping I will die before they have to spend any more money!!!
    Now guess where I'm going Monday at 1 p.m.
    YUP!! to get another discogram for my upcoming surgery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Good luck, Jim ~X( 8} :''(
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    I suppose I went off on a tangent, because It made me think back to the begining of the medical mistakes that were made on me and the pain and constant surgerys i've needlessly had to have, and have to get right now.
    But in fact the discogram does give the surgeon a better view of youre discs in slices that other imaging wouldn't get.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
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