Myelogram

This information will let you know what to expect before and after your myelogram. Please share this information with your family. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have any questions.

What is a Myelogram?

A myelogram (MY-low-gram) is an x-ray of the spinal column and its contents, the spinal cord and nerve roots. It will help your doctor diagnose your condition and recommend appropriate treatment. To help make your spinal cord and nerve roots visible on the x-ray, a dye will be injected into your spinal fluid.

Before the Myelogram

Many drugs thin the blood. They could cause you to bleed too much during the myelogram. Some of these drugs are aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Coumadin, Heparin, Fragmin, and Lovenox — but there are others. Ask your doctor which drugs are OK and which drugs you should stop taking. Ask your doctor when you should stop taking these drugs, and when you can start taking them again.

Before your myelogram, a Radiology Department staff member may call you to give you instructions. The staff member will ask you about your medical history including possible pregnancy. He or she will ask about any allergies to medications that you may have. You will be given instructions about what to eat and what not to eat on the morning of your myelogram. It is helpful to drink lots of fluid before your procedure.

You will not be able to drive for 24 hours after the myelogram, so a family member or friend must drive you home after the procedure. Make plans so that someone can do this.

The Day of the Procedure

You will be told where and when to arrive on the day of your procedure. After you register, a staff member will go over your medical history. He or she will ask you to put on a hospital gown. If you are allergic to any medications, please tell your nurse. A radiologist (a doctor trained in reading x-rays and other types of images) will meet with you to explain the myelogram procedure and to answer your questions. The radiologist or another staff member will ask you to sign a consent form before the procedure.

During the Procedure

When it is time for your myelogram, you will be asked to lie on an x-ray table. You probably will lie on your stomach. You may receive the dye injection in your lower back or the side of your neck. The injection site will be numbed with a special medicine.

After the injection, the radiologist or a radiology technologist will tilt the x-ray table into various positions. Then x-rays will be taken to study the flow of the dye as it outlines your spinal column.

After the Procedure

Immediately after the myelogram, another imaging exam called a CT (computed tomography) scan will be taken of your back or neck to help the radiologist interpret the myelogram.

After your myelogram and CT scan, you will rest for a while before you go home. You will rest with the head of the bed elevated, and your nurse will ask you to drink plenty of liquids. You may be allowed out of the bed to use the bathroom.

Tell your nurse if you feel sick to your stomach or have a headache after the myelogram. Your nurse can give you medicine to help you feel better.

Your doctor will call you with the results of your myelogram. Ask your doctor when to expect this call.

At Home

You may go back to your normal diet at home. To help you recover, please follow these instructions:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to flush the dye out of your system.
  • Avoid any strenuous activity for the first 48 hours after your myelogram.
  • When you sleep or lie down, prop up your head with several pillows.
  • Do not take any new medicines for at least 48 hours after the myelogram without first checking with your doctor.

When to Call the Doctor

If you have a headache that is not relieved by non-aspirin pain relievers (such as Tylenol), call your doctor.

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