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Imaging & Radiology

Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas

 
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Myelograms  

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What is a Myelogram? 

A myelogram is an X-ray of the spaces in the spinal cord which contain various nerves. This test uses a special dye (contrast material), which mixes with the spinal fluid. Myelograms are useful for those who cannot have MRIs, including patients with pacemakers and cochlear implants. View an animation of the procedure.

What to Expect

Your doctor will inject the special dye into your spinal sac via a spinal tap. You will lay on a tilting table, and as the table tilts, dye will outline your spinal sac. Then multiple X-rays are taken to show the doctor the flow of the dye, helping to determine if there is any unusual indentations. 

Common Uses

Myelograms are helpful in determining if there is pressure on the spinal nerves. The dye that is injected shows the bones and spinal fluid. If there is something pushing into the nerves, the dye would show an dent or mark in the spinal sac. Pressure could be caused by a herniated or bulging disc, lesions, tumors or injury to the spinal nerve roots. A myelogram is also performed to determine the cause of arm or leg numbness, weakness or pain. 

Risks

Since this scan requires a spinal tap, there are more risks than other imaging tests. Risks include:

  • Headache
  • Allergic reactions to the dye
  • Meningitis (infection of the spinal fluid)
  • Exposure to radiation