Chronic low back pain seldom improves with medications or standard medical care. However, you can get relief from your pain with interventional and minimally invasive procedures performed by Martin Quiroga, DO, MBA, and Eduardo, Otero Loperena, MD, at Michigan Advanced Pain & Spine. The team specializes in lumbar discography, a diagnostic procedure that guides decisions about the best treatment for your low back problem. If you need help with chronic back pain, call the office in Warren, Michigan, or book an appointment online today.
Lumbar discography is an imaging procedure to evaluate and diagnose problems in the spinal discs of your lower (lumbar) back.
During the procedure, your provider injects a dye into one or more lumbar discs. The stain increases the pressure inside the disc, which should temporarily trigger the same low back pain that you usually experience.
Reproducing the pain verifies that a specific disc is the source of the problem. Then your provider can recommend the best treatment for easing your pain.
Your provider at Michigan Advanced Pain & Spine may recommend discography to diagnose low back pain caused by:
The discs between each vertebra consist of a strong outer covering enclosing a gel-like fluid in the center. Injuries and daily wear and tear create weak spots in the cover.
Weak spots allow the inner gel to bulge out and push against nerves. If the cover ruptures, the gel pours into the spinal canal, causing nerve irritation, inflammation, and pain.
Over the years, spinal discs dry out and flatten. Then they stop supporting the vertebrae, leading to instability that causes compressed nerves.
You lie on a table equipped with a fluoroscope, a specialized device that takes real-time X-rays. Your provider gives you sedation through an IV line. This helps you relax but allows you to stay awake during the procedure so you can describe the sensation when your provider injects the dye.
After using an anesthetic to numb your skin and the tissues down to the disc, your provider inserts guide needles to the edge of the targeted disc. Then they insert a smaller needle through the guide needle.
After the needle reaches the center of the disc, they inject the dye and ask if you feel pain or pressure and how it compares to your usual low back pain. Your provider may repeat the procedure with several discs.
A lumbar discography typically takes about an hour. If the discogram reveals a problem, your provider may also take a CT scan of the disc.
If you have questions about lumbar discography or how it could help you, call Michigan Advanced Pain & Spine or book an appointment online today.