What is a Myelogram?

A myelogram is an x-ray examination of the spinal cord and spinal column. The exam is sometimes performed when an MRI cannot be performed or has provided incomplete information.

How can you prepare for a myelogram?

Hydrate (drink plenty of fluids) the day before your exam.  NPO after midnight
Hold NSAIDS and anticoagulants for 7 days prior to exam

What can you expect during your myelogram?

You will be instructed to put on a gown opening in the back. After you have given consent for the procedure to be performed, you will need to lie on your stomach on the fluoroscopy table. Your back will be prepped with betadine. Please let your technologist know if you have an iodine or contrast allergy.

During the procedure, your back is prepped with betadine and a sterile drape, and a contrast material is injected with a needle into the space surrounding the spinal cord, called the subarachnoid space. The exam produces detailed real-time images that help the radiologist to view and evaluate problems with the spinal cord and the surrounding nerves, tissue and blood vessels. It is also effective in the location and treatment of a herniated or ruptured disk.

What can I expect after the procedure?

The first 24 hours are the most important, but it will take approximately 48 hours to recover from the contrast (dye) injection. Various aches and discomfort in your arms/legs should not last more than 1 or 2 days. If you experience discomfort at the injection site, you may apply a cold ice pack for 30 minutes then off for at least an hour. Resume any medicines that were being withheld due to the procedure. If you are diabetic and take Glucophage (Metformin), do not resume until 48 hours post procedure time. There are 3 important rules to follow following your myelogram to ensure the best chance of avoiding a spinal headache.
1. 24 hours bed rest (from procedure time until the next morning)
            A. In the car on the way home, recline the seats as much as possible.
B. Lay down on a couch or bed as much as possible. (No Recliners) Keep your spine in a relatively flat position. One or two pillows can be used. Lie on your stomach, sides or back. We recommend that you get out of bed only to go to the bathroom and lie right back down. Use one or more pillows to elevate your head while eating or drinking. It is recommended that someone be with you to assist in preparing meals, etc.
2. Caffeine
A. Increase caffeine intake by sipping on caffeinated beverages during waking hours.
3. No Straining
A. Avoid any activities that would cause you to bear down and strain during the 48 hour recovery phase.
Straining (holding your breath and pushing against it) causes a pressure build-up in the spaces of your body and could lead to a significant amount of fluid to leak leading to severe headache.