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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about myelography?

Myelography is a procedure that uses an x-ray to examine your spinal canal. Contrast liquid is used to help healthcare providers see your nerves, bones, or spinal cord more clearly.

Vertebral Column

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Your healthcare provider will tell you how to prepare for the procedure. You may need blood, urine, or other tests before this procedure. Arrange to have someone drive you home after your procedure.
  • Tell your provider about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicine, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure.
  • Tell your provider about any allergies you have. Contrast liquid will be used to help healthcare providers see your nerves, bones, or spinal cord more clearly. Tell your provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. You may be given medicine to help prevent a reaction to the liquid.
  • If you are a woman, tell your provider if you know or think you might be pregnant. The x-rays used for this procedure can be harmful to an unborn baby.
  • Your provider may tell you to drink extra liquids the day before the procedure. He or she will tell you if it is okay to drink liquid on the day of the procedure. You may be told not to eat for a few hours before the procedure.

What will happen during the procedure?

  • Local anesthesia will be put into the skin on your back. It is used to numb the area. Depending on where your healthcare provider will inject the needle, you will sit or lie on an x-ray table.
  • Your provider will insert a needle between the bones of your spine and into your spinal canal. He or she will use an x-ray with a monitor to guide the needle. He or she will inject liquid to see your nerves, bones, or spinal cord more clearly. You may feel warm after the liquid is injected. The table will be tilted so the liquid can move through your spinal canal.
  • You will be moved into several positions, and x-rays will be taken. After the procedure is done, the needle will be removed. The injection site will be covered with a bandage or surgical tape.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

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What should I expect after the 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. Tell providers if you have a headache, back or neck pain, or tingling, numbness, or weakness below your waist. You may be able to go home when provider see you are okay.

  • You may need to drink more liquids than usual, or you may get IV fluids. Liquids will help flush the contrast 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.

What are the risks of myelography?

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 liquid used during the procedure may cause an allergy, seizures, or brain problems. The liquid 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. 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.

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