A myelogram can show spinal canal problems

A myelogram is a diagnostic imaging test generally done by a radiologist. It uses a contrast dye and X-rays or computed tomography (CT) to look for problems in the spinal canal. Problems can develop in the spinal cord, nerve roots, and other tissues. This test is also called myelography.

The contrast dye is injected into the spinal column before the procedure. The contrast dye appears on an X-ray screen allowing the radiologist to see the spinal cord, subarachnoid space, and other nearby structures more clearly than with standard X-rays of the spine.

The radiologist will also use a CT scan when doing a myelogram. A CT or CAT scan is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. A CT scan shows details images of the spinal canal. CT scans show more details than standard X-rays.

Types of diseases and problems a myelogram can help evaluate

A myelogram may be done to assess the spinal cord, subarachnoid space, or other structures for changes or abnormalities. It may be used when another type of exam, such as a standard X-ray, does not give clear answers about the cause of back or spine problems. Myelograms may be used to evaluate many diseases, including:

  • Herniated discs (discs that bulge and press on nerves and/or the spinal cord)
  • Spinal cord or brain tumors
  • Infection and/or inflammation of tissues around the spinal cord and brain
  • Spinal stenosis (degeneration and swelling of the bones and tissues around the spinal cord that make the canal narrow)
  • Ankylosing spondylitis (a disease that affects the spine, causing the bones to grow together)
  • Bone spurs
  • Arthritic discs
  • Cysts (benign capsules that may be filled with fluid or solid matter)
  • Tearing away or injury of spinal nerve roots
  • Arachnoiditis (inflammation of a delicate membrane that covers the brain.)

There may be other reasons for your health care provider to recommend a myelogram.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.