Myelogram (spinal canal)

Summary

Myelography is an imaging examination that involves the introduction of a spinal needle into the spinal canal and the injection of contrast material in the space around the spinal cord (the subarachnoid space) and nerve roots using a real-time form of x-ray called fluoroscopy.

An x-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.

When the contrast material is injected into the subarachnoid space, the radiologist is able to view and evaluate the status of the spinal cord, nerve roots, and meninges, which are the membranes which surround and cover the spinal cord and nerve roots. Myelography provides a very detailed picture (myelogram) of the spinal cord and spinal column. The radiologist views the passage of contrast material in real-time within the subarachnoid space as it is flowing using fluoroscopy but also may take permanent images, called x-rays or radiographs, of the contrast material around the spinal cord and nerve roots in order to document abnormalities involving or affecting these structures. In most cases, the myelogram is followed by a computed tomography (CT) scan to better define the anatomy and any abnormalities.

FAQ

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Exam Prep & Overview

You should tell your technologist about any recent illnesses or other medical conditions, as well as any allergies you might have to medications. Women should always inform SSR staff if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. If you are taking blood thinning medication, please inform SSR staff as you may need to discontinue these prior to the procedure.

DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO EAT 4 hours before your exam starts. Please note that you will need to drink 32 ounces of water one hour prior to your appointment. Then nothing by mouth until after your appointment. Since nausea occasionally occurs after this exam, it is suggested that you bring a friend or relative who can drive you home.

During the exam, you will be positioned on your stomach on a special fluoroscopy table. Using fluoroscopic guidance, the radiologist will numb the area and place a needle into the fluid filled space within the spinal canal. A special contrast material will then be injected into that space and images of the area will be taken.

If this exam is to be followed by CT imaging, you will be transferred to a stretcher, lying on your back with your head elevated. You will then be transferred to the CT table and more detailed images of your spine will be taken.

After your exam, be sure to drink plenty of liquids and plan on taking it easy. A mild headache is normal following this procedure and Tylenol may be used if needed. If a headache persists longer than 24 hours and increases in severity when upright but feels better when lying down, please call South Sound Radiology at 360-493-4600.

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