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by McCoy K

(Diskogram; Diskography; Discogram)



Discography is an imaging test. It involves injecting a contrast material into a disc in the spine and taking an x-ray . An x-ray is a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body. The contrast material helps the disc appear more clearly on the x-ray.
Herniated Lumbar Disc
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Reasons for Test

This test is used to detect if a herniated disc or otherwise abnormal disc is a source of pain. Discs are small, circular cushions between the vertebrae (bones) in the spine. A herniated disc occurs when a disc in the spine bulges from its proper place. Herniated discs can press on the nerves and cause severe pain. In some cases, they can cause pain themselves, but often an abnormal disc is not painful.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

Your doctor may do the following:
  • Physical exam and medical history
  • Pregnancy test—this test is not usually needed on pregnant women
  • Determine if you have any allergies
  • Possibly prescribe a mild sedative to help you relax (In some cases, you may be sedated.)
Your doctor may instruct you to:
  • If prescribed a sedative:
    • Arrange to have someone drive you home from the care center. Also, arrange for someone to help you at home.
    • Take the sedative as directed by your doctor.
  • Before the test, remove any metal objects from your body (eg, jewelry, hearing aids, dentures).

After Test

The staff will observe you for 30 minutes or more.
If you took a sedative, do not drive, operate machinery, or make important decisions until the sedative wears off.

How Long Will It Take?

About 30-60 minutes (an additional 30-60 minutes if a CT scan is also done)

Will It Hurt?

You may have pain from the contrast dye. Pain can last for several hours.


The results will be given to your doctor. Your doctor will talk to you about the results and treatment options.

Call Your Doctor

After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs: In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

North American Spine Society



Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation



Carragee EJ, Don AS, Hurwitz EL, Cuellar JM, Carrino JA, Herzog R. Does discography cause accelerated progression of degeneration changes in the lumbar disc: a ten-year matched cohort study. Spine. 2009;34(21):2338-2345.

Diskography. North American Spine Society website. Available at: . Accessed May 30, 2007.

Diskography: science and the ad hoc hypothesis. American Journal of Neuroradiology website. Available at: . Accessed June 6, 2007.

Stout A. Discography. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2010;21(4):859-867.


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