Description of Procedure

This is a procedure in which a contrast is injected into the middle of the spinal disc under fluoroscopic guidance while you are awake. Pain is monitored during the injection process. If the pain is like the pain that you have been experiencing, it is a positive test. With the contrast still in the disc, you will be taken to the CT scanner for further evaluation of the disc. This gives further information regarding injury, pathology, or anatomical integrity of the disc.

What Should I Expect During and After the Procedure?

This is a very painful test as the goal of the procedure is to reproduce and temporarily aggravate the very same pain that you have been suffering from.

What Are Some Possible Complications?

The main risk of the procedure is disc space infection, which is minimized by giving IV antibiotics before the procedure. Spine surgery may be necessary if infection occurs even though it can generally be treated with IV antibiotics for 6 weeks. The disc can be destroyed possibly causing chronic low back or neck pain if infection occurs. The first sign of infection is usually severe neck or low back pain. Other risks of the procedure include nerve root injury, nerve root irritation, and reactions to the contrast.

Given the risks involved with the procedure, it should only be done if spinal fusion is seriously considered, with patients that have exhausted all conservative non-operative options.