Normal CT

Image from a
myelogram procedure
showing the needle

What is a Myelogram?

A myelogram is an x-ray study of the spinal canal and the nerve roots. A needle is placed in your lower back and an x-ray contrast or dye is injected through the needle so the areas being studied can be seen more easily.

A radiologist will talk with you about the test and answer your questions. The test is performed in the Radiology Department.

Preparing for the Myelogram

  • You may have a light meal up to three hours before the scheduled time of the test. Then do not eat or drink until after the test, except for your regular medicine.
  • Two hours before the test, take your regular medicine with just a sip of water.

What to Expect During the Myelogram

Before the test, you will receive some medicine to help you relax, but you will be awake for the test. You may feel some pressure when the needle is inserted and removed from your back.

During the myelogram, you will lie on your stomach on a special table. Your lower back will be cleaned with a special solution. The doctor will give you a local anesthetic in your lower back before placing the needle. Contrast medium will be given through the needle. You may feel a warm flush for a few seconds when the dye is given.

During the test, the table will tilt your body up and down to move the contrast medium to different areas of the spinal canal. Pictures of the spinal canal will be taken. During or after the test, you may experience headache, nausea, or uneasiness in your stomach. You may be given medication to relieve these symptoms.

The myelogram test will take about 45 minutes. The time will vary depending on the information the doctor needs to obtain.

After the test, you will be taken to a room to recover. The head of your bed will need to be raised 30-40 degrees to lessen spinal headache or other related problems. Usually you will need to be in bed for 3-4 hours at the hospital. Then you may go home.

At home, you need to:

  • Drink 6 glasses of extra fluids.
  • Do not drive a car by yourself for the first 24 hours after the test.
  • The morning after the test, if you have a mild to moderate headache, stay in bed with your head up 20 degrees. Take Advil or Tylenol -- 1 or 2 tables every six hours for 24 to 48 hours. If you have an intense headache that occurs when you try to get up and is relieved when you lie flat, please call your radiologist immediately.


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