Medical Imaging

X-ray > Exams & Procedures > Myelogram

A Myelogram is used to examine the effects bone and disc abnormalities are having on your spinal cord and major nerves that exit from it.

Contrast

The contrast media used in this examination has several contraindications and you will be asked several important questions prior to this examination to determine if this contrast is right for you. You will be asked about your allergic history and your general health.

The contrast is a clear injectable fluid that is processed and eliminated from the body by the kidneys.

About the Procedure

The first part of this procedure will take about 20 to 40 minutes while the CT portion takes an additional 15 minutes.

When you arrive the day of your examination you will be escorted to an area where you can change your clothes. You will then be taken into the examination room where the procedure will take place. During the examination there will be two other people present: a technologist and a radiologist. The technologist will ensure your comfort and safety throughout the procedure and make sure that the equipment functions properly. The radiologist carries out the fluoroscopy and will complete your procedure with the assistance of the technologist. Fluoroscopy uses radiation just like conventional X-rays, but it is similar to a movie rather than a snap shot.

St. Michael's Hospital is a teaching facility and there may be a student technologist or radiology resident present for your examination. These students are highly trained and closely supervised to provide you with the best care while maximizing their education.

You will be asked to lie on your stomach on the examination table. The radiologist will then clean your lower back with a cold sterilizing solution. Using the fluoroscope, the doctor will determine the best place to introduce a needle into the spinal canal. You will then be given an injection of local anesthetic through a very small needle in the skin. This injection numbs only the path of the needle that will be used later for the injection of contrast.

Another needle is placed into the skin and advanced into the spinal canal. Only slight pressure, if anything, is usually felt from this needle because the radiologist numbs the area first

The radiologist will spend a few minutes positioning the tip of the needle into the space where cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) circulates normally throughout the brain and spinal cord. When the radiologist sees the CSF, they have visual confirmation of correct needle placement and can then start to inject the contrast. You may feel nothing or slight pressure during the injection which is done as slowly as is reasonable to ensure your comfort.

After the injection is complete the needle is removed and a small band-aid applied. At this time the radiologist will begin taking the images he or she requires. The table will be tilted up and down to run the contrast to the area of interest and images will be taken at several angles. Once the radiologist has the images necessary, this part of your examination is complete.

You will then carefully get on to a stretcher where we will take you to our Computed Tomography (CT) suite for more images.

Once the CT portion of your examination is complete you can go home. We ask that you have someone with you to take you home, but you will be able to walk normally and will not feel any lasting effects from the procedure other than the possibility of a small headache.

The contrast will be passed out of the body unnoticed through your urine. We ask that you drink extra water for the following day or two, to help flush out the contrast.

The radiologist has only had a preliminary look at the images and will need more time to examine them closely and compare them with the images from the CT portion of this examination. After they have been reviewed, a report will be made as quickly as possible and sent to your doctor.