Checking the spinal discs with injections and imaging
Between each of the bones in your spine (vertebrae), there is a small, fluid-filled disc. These discs are like tiny jelly doughnuts that act as a cushion between each one of your spinal bones. Discography, also known as a discogram, is a test that checks to see if a problem with one of your discs is causing you to have back pain.
Discography involves carefully injecting a dye into the discs. During the procedure, you’ll lie on an X-ray table. Your doctor will use an X-ray or other imaging test to see inside your body and make sure that the dye is placed correctly and safely.
If one of your discs is causing you pain, injecting the dye into that disc will temporarily cause the same pain. If your pain isn’t caused by a problem with your discs, you won’t feel anything different when the dye is injected.
How to know if discography is the best option for you
There are other, less invasive ways to diagnose back problems. Once your doctor asks you about your pain and does a physical exam, imaging tests like an X-ray, CT scan or MRI can look inside the body without needing an injection.
These imaging tests can check for a slipped or herniated disc, fracture or other issue. Your doctor may recommend that you try one of these tests before undergoing discography.