Download/print the Myelogram patient information sheet

What is a myelogram?

A myelogram is a procedure that can detect spinal column abnormalities including a tumor, a herniated disc or arthritis, spinal narrowing and/or nerve impingement. It can also aid in surgery planning.

Where can I schedule this exam?

A myelogram can be scheduled at: 

How should I prepare for my procedure?
  • Nothing to eat or drink 2 hours prior to your exam.
  • Bring someone to drive you home. Do not drive until the next day.
  • 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 stop 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 and 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.
  • Please inform us about any known or possible pregnancy, or allergies to medications including iodine or x-ray contrast.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early to complete registration.
  • Bring your insurance card and a valid photo ID.
How long will my procedure take?

A myelogram will take approximately 30 minutes.

What happens during my procedure?

You will be positioned on your stomach on an x-ray table. The fluoroscopy camera will be positioned above you. The area to be injected will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution. Local anesthetic will be applied to numb the area.

A small needle will be placed into your spinal canal, and a sample of fluid may be taken. Next a small amount of x-ray contrast material is injected through the needle. After the injection, x-rays will be taken using the fluoroscopy machine.

In some cases, a CT scan will be performed after the myelogram, which will take another 30 minutes. The images obtained from the CT scan provide greater detail about the internal structure of the spinal canal.

What happens after my procedure?

A summary of the procedure 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. For the remainder of the day, rest with your head slightly elevated 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 up to 15 minutes per hour to relieve any discomfort.

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