Discography helps determine the nature of your back pain by injecting dye into the affected disc for review on X-ray.

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Spinal imagery

What is a discography?

Chronic lower back pain can be very difficult to diagnose and treat. If you’ve already had an MRI scan, then your consultant may recommend discography to help determine the cause of your back pain and to develop a treatment plan.

Need to know

During a discography, a radio-opaque dye is injected into the jellylike centre of a spinal disc. This makes the disc visible on an X-ray or fluoroscope (an X-ray which captures movement), so that your consultant can examine it. If the disc is normal, the dye remains in the centre of the disc.

If the disc is torn, the dye will spread through tears found in the disc. Your consultant may wish to follow up the discography with a CT scan.

As the dye also shows up on CT scans, this can be done immediately afterwards. The procedure usually lasts 15- 30 minutes and you will be sedated.

One of our radiologists will carry out the discography, but your consultant will explain the procedure to you beforehand and answer any questions you may have. You’ll need to avoid food and drink the night before your discography procedure.

You’ll recover in the radiology area for a while. As you will be sedated, you should arrange for someone to help you get home afterwards.

Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.

Lower back pain

The Spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae and between each is a disc which acts a shock absorber in the spinal column.

Sometimes these discs can wear out and press on the spinal cord or nerves causing lower back pain

More about lower back pain

Our Discography locations

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

170 Tottenham Court Road W1T 7HA London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London
London Bridge Hospital

London Bridge Hospital

27 Tooley Street SE1 2PR London
The Wellington Hospital

The Wellington Hospital

8A Wellington Place NW8 9LE London

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.