What is a myelogram?
A myelogram is an x-ray examination of the fluid filled spinal canal that surrounds the spinal cord and runs the length of the spine. During the test, contrast fluid (a liquid that can be seen on x-rays) is injected into the spinal canal. The neuroradiologist can see the spinal canal, nerve roots and discs on x-ray films which help your doctor identify problems that could be causing your pain, weakness or numbness. A CT scan is performed after the myelogram which provides additional information.
How should I prepare for a myelogram?
Do not eat after midnight the night before the exam. Drink a lot of water and juice the day before the procedure. You may have clear liquids to drink after midnight (NO FOOD). The Morning of the test, please shower with anti-bacterial soap in order to decrease the amount of germs on the skin and reduce the chance of getting an infection.
If you are diabetic, you should be scheduled for an early morning myelogram. If you are diabetic, please be sure to notify your doctor and Professional Imaging so that they are aware that you are diabetic in order to make the necessary changes to your procedure.
Do not take any medication (either prescription or over the counter) before speaking with the nurse at Professional Imaging. Please bring all of the medications you take in their original containers to the center on the day of your test. Some medicines have special restrictions and may need to be stopped before your exam.
Please notify the nurse if you are pregnant or think you might be, have bleeding problems, or have any allergies.
What will happen the day of the test?
When you arrive you will register for your exam at the front desk. After registering, you will be taken to a dressing room where you will change into hospital attire and secure your personal belongings in a locker. You will then walk to the recovery room where the nurse will complete your assessment. The neuroradiologist performing the myelogram will explain the procedure and risks. This is a good time to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have about the procedure. We offer a mild oral sedative to help patients relax (we cannot put you to sleep). Therefore, a driver is necessary.
What can I expect during my myelogram?
You will lie on an x-ray table on your stomach. Your back will be cleansed and covered with sterile drapes. The doctor will inject a small amount of numbing medicine. The doctor will then place a spinal needle into your spinal canal and inject the contrast fluid; a small bandage is put over the puncture site. To move the contrast fluid through the spinal canal, the x-ray table may slowly be tilted. One or more x-rays are taken. The test will take about 30 to 40 minutes.
What will happen following the myelogram?
A CT scan of your spine will be performed. You will be returned to the recovery room for bed rest with your head elevated. This is done to prevent you from having a headache. You will then be allowed to leave the center 2 hours after the myelogram, depending on your doctor's wishes. You will need someone else to drive you home. You should not indulge in strenuous activity for another 48 hours. For the first 24 hours, please stay off your feet as much as possible, drink 2-3 quarts of fluid and resume your regular diet. You can remove the bandage from the puncture site the next day, If you should develop a postural headache (one that is relieved when lying down and increases when standing), please lie down and drink plenty of fluids and caffeine for the remainder of the day. If severe headache persists until the morning after the myelogram, call your physician.
How will I get the results of my test?
The results of your examination will be available to your physician within 24-48 hours of the test. Your physician is in the best position to explain the results of the examination.