Patient Instructions for Lumbar Discography
You have been scheduled for a ___________________________________________________
Date of procedure: _______________________________ Time: _______________________
Please check into Radiology at UW Hospital fifteen minutes before your scheduled visit.
If you are unable to keep this appointment,
please call Radiology Scheduling at (608) 263-9729.
Your doctor has asked that you have a
lumbar discogram to find out if your low
back pain may be caused by a problem in
the disc area.
The discogram will be done by a radiologist.
It will take about 1-2 hours to complete.
This test involves numbing the skin and
placing a fine needle into some of your
lumbar discs. A liquid with iodine will be
put into the disc area through the needle.
When this is done, you will be asked if you
are feeling pain in your back and if the pain
is like the back pain you feel most often.
Many patients report more low back pain
after this test. You may need more pain
medicine after this test. The pain may also
limit what you are able to do for a few days.
To Prepare for Your Test
You won’t be able to have this test if:
ξ You haven’t had an MRI or CT scan
of your lower spine.
ξ You have an active infection, such as
a cold or sinus infection.
ξ You are allergic to x-ray dyes,
iodine, or local anesthetics (numbing
ξ You may be or are pregnant.
ξ You weigh more than 450 pounds.
Please tell our staff if you are taking blood
thinners; such as, Plavix®, Warfarin
(Coumadin®), Xarelto, or Pradaxa.
You may take your usual dose of pain
medicine the morning of the test. Do not
repeat the dose before the test. This may
affect the results of the test.
Please bring your pain medicine with you.
You may take it after your test, if needed.
Do not eat for 2 hours before your test. You
may have water to drink.
You must have someone drive you home
after your test.
The Day of Your Test
Enter the hospital through the clinic entrance
and take the Atrium elevators to the 3rd
floor. Check in at the (G3/3) Radiology
If you have an MRI or CT from another
hospital, you must bring it with you for
the Radiologist to review.
The Radiologist will meet you in a consult
room to explain the risks and benefits of the
procedure. You will have a chance to ask
questions you have before your test. Serious
problems after this test are rare. Problems
may include infection or bleeding in the
Tell your doctor if you have diabetes or
After your test, you must take the rest of
the day off from work, so please plan for
ξ Avoid any strenuous physical
activity or heavy lifting for 24 hours.
ξ You may return to your normal
routine as soon as you are able.
ξ You may take the medicines that you
use for your low back pain.
ξ It is normal to have more pain for a
few days after the test than you had
before the test.
When and How to Contact the
Please call the radiologist if you have:
ξ Pain that gets worse for no reason
ξ Fever greater than 100.4 θ by mouth
for 2 readings taken 4 hours apart.
ξ Redness that gets worse or swelling
around the site
ξ Any drainage from the site where the
needle was placed
You can talk with the radiologist by calling
the Musculoskeletal Radiology
Interventional Service at (608) 263-9729
After hours, nights, weekends and holidays,
call (608) 263-6400. Please ask for the
radiology resident on call. Leave your name
and phone number with area code. The
doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call:
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 7/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5244.