Skip to Content

Computed Tomographic Myelography


Computed tomographic (CT) myelography is a procedure to examine your spinal canal. Contrast dye is used to help healthcare providers see your nerves, bones, or spinal cord more clearly.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Local anesthesia is a shot of medicine put into the skin on your back. It is used to numb the area and dull the pain. You may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery.

During your procedure:

  • You will be asked to lie on your side on an x-ray bed or table. Your surgeon will insert a needle between the bones of your spine and into your spinal canal. He will use an x-ray with a monitor to carefully guide the needle. He will inject dye to see your nerves, bones, or spinal cord more clearly. You may feel warm after the dye is injected. The table lie will be tilted so the dye can move through your spinal canal.
  • A series of x-rays may be taken while you are moved into different positions. Then, a CT scan of the spine will be done. If the dye is made with oil, it will be removed. The needle will be removed, and the injection site will be covered with a bandage or surgical tape.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room to rest for several hours. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you will be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room. Tell your healthcare provider if you have a headache, back or neck pain, or tingling, numbness, or weakness below your waist.

  • You may be asked to drink more liquids than usual. You may need IV fluids. Liquids will help flush the contrast dye out of your body.
  • A neurologic exam will check how your pupils react to light. Healthcare providers may also check your memory, hand grasp, foot or leg movement, and balance.
  • You may develop a headache during the first few hours after your procedure. The headache may be mild to severe and may get worse when you sit up or stand. Your healthcare provider will monitor the location where the needle was inserted for possible leaking fluid. Fluid loss from your spinal column may increase your risk for a headache.


CT myelography may increase your risk for a headache, neck or back pain, nausea, or vomiting. You may have bleeding, or spinal fluid may leak from the injection site. The procedure may cause injury to a disc, nerves, or your spinal cord. The dye used during the procedure may cause an allergy, seizures, or brain problems. The dye may also damage your kidneys.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.