Helping to diagnose the source of pain
Discography is a diagnostic procedure used to help determine the source of pain the neck, mid-back, low back and/or arms, chest wall, abdomen and legs. Degenerative disc disease, which destroys the discs that cushion the vertebrae is a common cause of such pain. However, other structures in the spine also cause similar pain. Discography can confirm the disc(s) as a pain source.
The discography procedure is relatively simple and involves using a small needle to inject contrast dye into the disc. The physician numbs a small area of skin and uses x-ray guidance to direct a small needle into the center of the suspected disc and possibly at several adjoining disc levels. After the needles are in their proper locations, a small amount of contrast dye is injected into each disc. If a disc is the source of pain, the injection will temporarily reproduce discomfort. If a disc is not involved, the injection will not produce discomfort.