Lumbar Discogram


The use of the lumbar discogram gives specialists at The Spine & Pain Center the ability to determine if a damaged disc in the spine is the source of lower back and leg pain. Located in between the bones of the spine, these spinal discs are round, with a hard outer layer and a softer inner core. At the beginning of the procedure, a contrast dye is injected into the disc. If the dye remains in the disc, it can be determined that the disc is intact. If dye leaks outside the disc, however, it is likely that the disc has been damaged and may be contributing to chronic back pain.


The procedure begins with the patient in a face-down position on their stomach. The patient is awake and a local anesthetic is used to make the procedure more comfortable. A type of live x-ray, also known as a fluoroscopy helps the physician ensure accurate placement of the contrast dye. Once that has been achieved, the patient will participate in a pre-scheduled CT study to determine if the dye has spread outside the confines of the disc. Should the dye spread, it means that the disc is damaged and may be the source of the pain. During the study, if the disc is the cause of the chronic pain symptoms, the patient will feel a pain that is similar to their daily pain during the course of the injection. At this time, the physician will ask the patient to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10.

At the end of the procedure, the needle will be removed and a small bandage will be placed over the injection site. The patient will be monitored in the office for a short time and released to go home to rest. They will need a caretaker to drive them home. This outpatient procedure takes approximately 30 minutes at The Spine & Pain Center office and patients are able to return to normal activities the following day.

After Care

Pain at the injection site is common following the procedure. Ice and over the counter pain relievers like Aspirin or Ibuprofen may be used to manage discomfort. Should the patient develop severe back pain or fever following the procedure, they should contact The Spine & Pain Center physician immediately.