What is Myelography?

Myelography is an x-ray examination of the spinal canal.  A contrast is injected through a needle into the space around the spinal cord to display the spinal cord, spinal canal, and nerve roots on an x-ray.

What will the exam be like?

Once you arrive you will be asked to change into a gown.  Then you will be asked to lie on the exam table on your stomach.  The Radiologist will look at the spine under fluoroscopy, where the images appear on a monitor screen.  This is done to find the best location to position the needle.  The skin is cleaned, and then numbed with local anesthetic.  The needle is inserted.  Occasionally, a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid may be withdrawn through the needle and sent for laboratory studies.  Then contrast material is injected.

The table is tilted slowly.  This allows the contrast material to reach different levels in the spinal canal.  The flow is observed under fluoroscopy, and then x-rays are taken with the table tilted at various angles.  A footrest and shoulder straps or supports will keep you from sliding.

In many instances, a CT scan of the spine will be performed immediately after a myelogram, while the contrast material is still in the spinal canal.

How do I prepare for the exam?

You will be informed of what to do to prepare for your exam when you schedule your appointment.

Typically, patients should be well hydrated at the time of a myelogram.  Increasing fluids the day before the study is usually recommended.  However, you should not eat or drink anything 2 hours prior to the procedure. Certain medications may need to be stopped prior to the procedure.

Please follow the instructions given to you when scheduling your exam.

How long will the exam take?

A myelogram takes approximately 30-60 minutes.  A CT scan adds about another 30 minutes to the examination.

Following the exam:

After the examination is completed, you will rest at the hospital for several hours, with your head elevated.  Extra fluids are encouraged to help eliminate the contrast material and prevent headaches. Strenuous physical activity is discouraged for one or two days.

Exam results:

A Radiologist will study the images and a typed report will be sent to your designated health care provider.

Special note:

Women should always inform their health care provider or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

If you should have any questions regarding this procedure, please call 815-942-2932 ext. 7130.

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