You will need to pre-register for your myelogram. Call:
- Toll-free 1-855-273-SCAN (7226)
- 704-384-SCAN (7226)
A myelogram is a test that uses X-rays and a special dye injected into your back to look at your spinal canal and surrounding nerves. It can be performed on your neck, upper back or lower back.
For Your Safety
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant. Your doctor may decide whether to postpone the exam or use an alternative exam such as ultrasound to reduce the possible risk of exposing your fetus to radiation.
This exam requires patients to consume a contrast material. If you have allergies or asthma, there is a slight risk of an allergic reaction to the material. Most reactions result in itchiness or hives. For individuals with asthma who are allergic, the reaction can be an asthma attack. In very rare instances, an allergic reaction may cause swelling in your throat or other areas of your body. Diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or thyroid conditions also increase your risk of reaction to the contrast material. Immediately tell your technologist or doctor if you experience any of these symptoms during or after your exam. Our staff and physicians are prepared should any type of emergency situation occur.
The most common side effect of a myelogram is a headache. This can occur one or two days after the procedure. About one out of every 15 patients experiences this side effect. When you leave the area after the procedure, you will receive the radiologist's name and phone number. You should report a severe headache even if it occurs a few days after the procedure. Headaches can result from a slow leakage of spinal fluid from the needle puncture site. The headache is not dangerous and will eventually go away on its own. If you headache is severe, a procedure called a "blood patch" can be done to seal the leak. This procedure is done by an anesthesiologist and is available at Presbyterian Hospital.
Less common side effects of a myelogram include:
- Infection - We use a sterile field and clean your back with an antiseptic solution to decrease the risk of infection.
- Allergic reaction to the x-ray dye
- Nerve damage
Preparing for a Myelogram
- Drink extra fluid the day before your exam.
- You may have a light breakfast.
- Do not drink any alcohol for at least 24 hours before and after your procedure.
- A responsible adult will need to drive you home. Your exam will be rescheduled if you do not have someone to drive you home.
- Notify the radiology department and your doctor if you have any allergies to X-ray dye or if you are taking any medications. Certain medications may need to be stopped prior to your exam.
- Please arrive an hour before the scheduled exam time and wear comfortable clothing that is easy to get in and out of.
- Please bring any prior exams of your spine you may have had done and give them to the technologist when you go into the exam room. Be sure to ask the technologist to return those films before you leave the hospital.
- Avoid airline travel for 2-8 days following your myelogram.
What to Expect During a Myelogram
You will lie on your abdomen on an X-ray table. The area is numbed with a slight needle stick. A needle then is inserted into your lower back, and a small amount of spinal fluid is removed for lab testing. A dye (liquid contrast material) is injected through the needle into your spinal canal. You are tilted up or down, and the flow of the dye is observed by the radiologist. X-rays and later a CT scan of your back or neck are taken following the myelogram for further evaluation of your symptoms.
After the test, you will be observed for four to six hours. You will be asked not to drive the day of your test. You should drink plenty of fluids and rest for most of the day.
A radiologist will review your exam images and report the findings to your doctor. Your doctor will then discuss the findings and next steps wit