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A myelogram is a special X-ray examination of your spinal cord, spinal canal and the areas surrounding these structures. A special dye, called a contrast material, is injected into your spinal canal through a needle so that the area being studied will show up more clearly on the X-rays. A myelogram can identify abnormalities of your spinal cord, spinal anal and spinal nerves. Your doctor might want to use this test when other imaging procedures, such as a CT scan or MRI, have not provided enough information for an accurate diagnosis of your problem.

What to expect during your test or treatment

  • Your technologist will take you to a special room where the pictures will be taken.
  • You should empty your bladder at this time so you will be comfortable during your test.
  • Before the test, you will receive some medicine to help you relax, but you will be awake for the test.
  • Your nurse may start an IV if the radiologist or physician performing the exam thinks medication may need to be given.
  • Your technologist will position you on your stomach on a special table that can be tilted up and down as necessary during your myelogram.
  • Depending on the area of your spine being studied, your technologist will clean your lower back or neck with a sterile solution of iodine.
  • The physician will then inject a numbing medication into your neck or back with a small needle.
  • Your radiologist will carefully place a needle into your spinal canal using X-ray guidance.
  • The contrast material will then be injected through the needle, and a series of X-rays will be taken.
  • During the test, the table will tilt up and down to move the contrast medium through your body to different areas of the spinal canal.
  • During or after the test, you may experience a headache, nausea or mild discomfort. If so, you will be given medication to help relieve these symptoms.
  • The myelogram usually takes 30 to 90 minutes to complete.

What to expect after your test or treatment

  • After your test, you will be taken to a comfortable room to recover.
  • The head of your bed will be raised 30 to 40 degrees to lessen your headache and to keep you from feeling dizzy or faint.
  • You will remain in the recovery room for three to four hours, and then you will be free to go home.
  • The radiologist will study the X-rays and send a complete report to your doctor.
  • Your doctor will schedule a time to discuss the results of your test with you.

Returning home
If you have any questions after returning home, please contact your physician.

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