CT Myelogram

Download/print the Myelogram patient information sheet

What is a CT Myelogram?

A CT myelogram is a two-part procedure performed to detect abnormalities including a tumor, herniated disc, arthritis, spinal narrowing and/or nerve impingement of the spinal canal.

How should I prepare for my exam?
  • Do not eat solid foods for 2 hours prior to your exam.Drink an increased amount of clear liquids (water and juices) the day before and after your exam.

  • If you have an active infection and are taking antibiotics, the
    medication course must be complete prior to the procedure, to ensure that no infection remains.

  • If you are taking blood thinners (Coumadin, Plavix, Ticlid), you will have to hold the medication prior to the procedure. Contact your healthcare provider before stopping any medication to determine if it is safe for you.

  • Certain medications can make you slightly more susceptible to seizures and should not be taken for 48 hours before or 24 hours after a myelogram. These include many anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and MAO inhibitors. Please discuss your medications with your healthcare provider before this procedure.

  • Wear comfortable clothes without metal fasteners, including zippers, buttons and snaps.

  • Bring someone to drive you home. Do not drive until the next day.

  • Arrive 15 minutes early to complete registration.

  • Bring your appointment form, insurance card and a valid photo ID.

  • Please let us know about any of the following:
    – Pregnancy, known or possible
    – Allergies to medications, iodine or x-ray contrast
How long will my exam take?

A CT myelogram typically takes about an hour - 30 minutes for the injection procedure and 30 minutes for the CT scan.

What happens during my exam?

During the first part of a CT myelogram, contrast is injected into your spinal canal under x-ray guidance. The contrast material serves to illuminate your spinal canal, cord and nerve roots during imaging. After the injection, x-rays will be taken using the fluoroscopy machine.

The second part is a CT exam to capture images of your spine. The images obtained from the CT scan provide greater detail about the internal structure of the spinal canal.

What happens after my exam?

Your images will be interpreted by one of our board-certified radiologists. The findings will be sent to your healthcare provider who will then contact you to discuss the results.

Unless directed otherwise, you may resume your normal diet and prescribed medications. You should have someone stay with you for 12 hours after the procedure. Rest for the remainder of the day. It is recommended that you lay flat in bed with your head slightly elevated for the rest of the day to reduce the risk of getting a post myelogram headache. Do not return to work until the following day. Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for 24 hours after the procedure. 

You may feel soreness at the needle insertion site for 2-3 days. You can use an ice pack for up to 15 minutes per hour to relieve any discomfort.

As with any procedure involving a needle, there is a small chance of infection or bleeding. Rarely there could be neural injury, headache, temporary numbness, weakness or facial flushing.

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