The Granddaddy of no damned fun at all! Most cases are not as severe as mine, so your mileage will definitely vary.
Here’s the lowdown on this very useful but incredibly painful test:
When your doctor has reason to believe a certain spinal intersection (disc) is causing your pain, they order discography to pin it down exactly. In my case, all 5 Lumbar discs were tested in one session. I’ve never been in so much pain in my life. I literally could not walk for 3 entire days afterward.
Here’s how it works.
- The patient is placed face-down on a table under an X-Ray head.
- An Anesthesiologist puts the patient to sleep.
- Spinal needles (ever seen one of these?) are placed through the back and into the disc(s) to be tested. One on each side of each disk. That was a total of TEN needles for me. The Doctor attaches syringes with contrast dye onto each needle.
- Then they wake up the patient.
- And inject each disc one at a time, take images of it, and ask the patient what the pain is like and where. And how it compares to previous pain episodes.
- In my case, rinse and repeat NINE TIMES.
- Then the patient is put back to sleep, needles are removed and off to a CT Scan of the entire area tested.
When the patient wakes up, the anesthesia employed during this test has the merciful effect of selective amnesia, so you won’t remember everything they put you through while awake and answering questions. However… Pressurizing the discs with contrast has the effect of bringing back all the pain you’ve ever had at those intersections – all at once. Be prepared. It’s painful as hell.