What is a myelogram?
A myelogramis an x-ray to evaluate the spinal canal that is generally performed by a radiologist. A spinal tap is used to introduce an x-ray dye into the spinal canal. X-ray pictures are then taken with the fluoroscope. After the pictures are completed, a CT scan of the target spinal areas is performed.
Preparation for a myelogram
If you think you might be pregnant, tell your doctor or technologist prior to the exam. After midnight, the night prior to your procedure, you cannot have any solid food. You may have a clear liquid breakfast (for example, water, apple juice, tea, chicken broth or JELL-O™) on exam day. You cannot have milk, coffee or orange juice. It is important to drink a lot of fluids.
You may take all your medications, except aspirin, ibuprofen or Vitamin E during the 10 days prior to the procedure. Blood thinners, such as coumadin, should be stopped five days prior to the procedure. Other pain medications may be taken up to four hours prior to the procedure.
You should wear comfortable clothes for the procedure. Leave money and valuables at home. Bring previous x-rays, MRIs or CT scans with you. Make arrangements for someone to drive you home, because you will not be able to drive following the procedure.
Just before your myelogram
When you arrive at the hospital, go to Admitting to register. Some laboratory testing may need to be completed. You will then go to the Same-Day Surgery (SDS) unit. There, the Hurley radiologist performing the procedure will explain the procedure and any risks or complications. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask any questions you have about the procedure. You will then be asked to sign a consent form for the procedure, after which you will be transported to radiology on a patient gurney.
During your myelogram
You will lie on your stomach on the x-ray table. Your skin will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. A local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, will be used to numb the skin on your back. The radiologist will then place a needle into your spinal canal. The needle’s placement is monitored by a fluoroscope. Once the needle is in the proper position, an x-ray dye will be injected into the spinal canal. Several pictures will be taken. Once the dye is placed, the needle will be removed. You will then be taken to Nuclear Medicine within one hour for more tests.
After your myelogram
When the myelogram is completed, you will be returned to the Same-Day Surgery unit. An SDS nurse will monitor your vital signs for 4-6 hours prior to discharge. You will need to drink plenty of fluids to flush the dye from your system. Your family may stay with you after the myelogram, and you must have someone drive you home and remain with you for the rest of the day. The Hurley radiologist will review the images and send the results to your doctor. Your doctor will review the results with you.