Accurately Diagnoses the Source of Back Pain

Discography, also referred to as disc stimulation testing, is a diagnostic tool used specifically to distinguish the pain resulting from a damaged disc.

Discography Facts & Information

Back pain is a very common ailment caused by different types of conditions. These conditions often share similar symptoms. As a result, an accurate diagnosis becomes critical to determining the most effective treatment.

Discography, also referred to as disc stimulation testing, is a diagnostic tool used specifically to distinguish the pain resulting from a damaged disc to the pain experienced with facet syndrome or sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

What is Discography?

Discography is a testing method that enables physicians to view and assess the internal structure of a disc in order to determine the exact source of your back pain.

With age or injury, the walls of the spinal discs can become damaged or fissured. This condition is called Internal Disc Disruption or Degenerative Disc Disease and can result in discogenic back pain. When the disc causes pain, it is typically a deep ache that sometimes radiates into the buttocks or thigh. Pain from facet joints in the back and from the sacroiliac (SI) joints can be difficult to distinguish from disc pain based on medical history, physical exam, or MRI alone. Discography will help your doctor determine if your pain is from a damaged disc.

In this diagnostic test, contrast dye is injected into the spinal disc(s) that are presumed to be the source of your back pain. First, the skin and deeper tissues are numbed with a local anesthetic. Then, using fluoroscopy (x-ray) guidance, a needle is inserted into the disc. Contrast dye is injected, and careful monitoring of the flow pattern of the dye and your pain response is recorded.

How Long does the Procedure Take?

Typically, we advise patients to take it easy the day of the procedure. As a rule, patients return to normal activity the following day. However, some individuals may experience discomfort for one to two days following discography. If you are having discomfort, your doctor will advise you on how best to address it. Usually, the discomfort is alleviated with ice and oral analgesics.

The results of discography can be crucial to determining the best course of treatment to effectively address your back pain.

What is a Vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is an innovative procedure that provides immediate pain relief in many cases by stabilizing and reinforcing fractured vertebrae. Guided by fluoroscopy (x-ray), the physician inserts a small needle into the damaged vertebrae and injects specially formulated bone cement. The cement hardens within 15 minutes, providing instant stability and pain relief by sealing the fracture.

How Long does the Procedure Take?

Vertebroplasty is safely performed on an outpatient basis. The procedure takes about one hour. Afterwards, there is a short period of observed recovery time.

What are the Expected Results?

Vertebroplasty has been delivering excellent outcomes since the early 1990s, achieving dramatic results in up to 90 percent of cases. Some patients experience immediate pain relief and most report that their pain is gone or significantly better within 48 hours. Typically, patients resume normal activity within 24 hours.Vertebroplasty resolves pain, stabilizes fractures, increases functional abilities, and reduces spinal deformity without surgery or prolonged recovery. By repairing the fracture, vertebroplasty promotes lasting pain relief.