Your doctor has requested that you have a myelogram. Please read the following description of the test — and what you need to do both before and after the exam.

What is a myelogram?

A myelogram is a test that evaluates the spine. The myelogram is performed by the radiologist, with the use of x-ray during the test. In most cases, you’ll be asked to lie on your stomach, while the radiologist (MD) or technologist cleans the lower back. Numbing medicine will be injected into the skin at the needle placement site. With x-ray guidance, the radiologist will place a needle into the spinal canal, the fluid column that contains the spinal cord and its nerves. Once the needle is positioned, a small volume of x-ray dye is injected slowly. The needle is then removed and x-rays are taken. A CT scan is usually performed within 30 minutes to an hour.

Will the test hurt?

Lidocaine used to "numb" the skin will sting as it’s injected. After this, most people feel "pressure" in the back as the needle is placed in the spinal canal. Some will experience pain as the needle passes between the vertebrae of the spine. Injection of the x-ray dye may cause transient tingling or numbness in the legs or a feeling of "heaviness.”

Before the test

Please tell your doctor of all medication you currently take. Your doctor may need to take you off certain medications before this procedure.

After the myelogram

You’ll be placed on a stretcher with your head elevated 30 degrees during recovery. You may have food and drink as tolerated. When you go for your CT scan you will lie flat. Average recovery time is two hours. Once you are stable, you’ll be allowed to leave. You will NOT be allowed to drive home, so please arrange for someone to take you home. To minimize the risk of having a headache, bed rest is recommended for the remainder of the day.

What are the Risks?

The most common side effect is a headache. Headaches during, and immediately after, the test are usually mild, controlled with over-the-counter medications. If you experience severe headaches, call your doctor or go to the nearest Emergency Department.

One or two days after the myelogram, further treatment may be required, but is uncommon when bed rest is followed. Dizziness, nausea and vomiting may occur during the myelogram, but are uncommon. Bleeding in the spinal canal and nerve injury are extremely uncommon. Seizures can occur during the myelogram, but are very rare. If you experience any of these symptoms, please call your physician. You’ll be asked to sign a consent form before the test. The radiologist will answer any questions you may have before they begin your procedure.