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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:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your healthcare provider. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your provider if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. You may be given medicine to help prevent a reaction to the dye.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you know or think you might be pregnant.
  • You may need to have blood or urine tests. You may also need other imaging tests, such as x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your procedure:

Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • Ask your healthcare provider before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • You will be asked to lie on your side on an x-ray 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 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. You may need to drink more liquids than usual after the procedure, or you may need IV fluids. Liquids will help flush the contrast dye out of your body.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure.
  • You have a skin infection or a wound near the area where the procedure will be done.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or you have a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have a fever.
  • Your signs and symptoms get worse.


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.

Care Agreement

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.

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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.