Discography is a procedure used to determine if the intervertebral discs are the source of a patient’s pain. The test is usually done for patients with chronic back or neck pain when diagnosis by X-ray, myelogram, CT or MRI alone has not been achieved.

Initially you will be given medication to help you relax. The radiologist will then inject a local anaesthetic to numb the target area. Fluoroscopy, an imaging technique that projects an x-ray type picture onto a monitor, is used to guide the spinal needle into the suspect intervertebral disc. A contrast dye is then injected through the spinal needle into the nucleus (centre) of the disc and X-ray pictures are taken. If the injection reproduces the patient’s pain, it is considered a positive sign for the source of pain. You may then be given a CT scan to give your physician even more information.

The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes plus an additional 30 minutes if a CT is indicated, plus recovery time of several hours.