A myelogram uses X-rays and a special dye called contrast material to visualize the spaces between the bones in your spinal column. A myelogram may be done to find a tumor, an infection, problems with the spine such as a budging disc, and arthritis.
You will be placed on your stomach, and your back cleaned in a sterile fashion. Then dye is placed into the fluid space with a thin needle, guided by X-ray. The dye flows through the space so the nerve roots and spinal cord can be seen more clearly. Pictures are taken before and after the contrast is injected. CT scans are often done after the X-rays, while the dye is still in your body. A myelogram may help find the cause of pain that cannot be found by other tests, such as an MRI or a CT scan. Franklin G. Moser MD, director of Neuroradiology, and Marcel Maya, MD, lead our team of imaging physicians, nurses and technologists who specialize in this procedure.
Before Arriving for Your Procedure
Please bring films and/or CDs of your most recent CT and/or MRI with you to your myelogram appointment. Without the images, we will be unable to perform the study.
You will be contacted by a member of our team the day before your exam (between 4 and 6 p.m.) and given instructions on how you should prepare and what time you should arrive. If you are not contacted by 5:30 pm, please call 310-423-2723.
Please continue to take any blood pressure or heart medications.
You should have your doctor’s office fax all orders to Cedars-Sinai 2 to 3 days before your procedure: 310-423-7989.
You will need to stop taking anticoagulants. Please inform your doctor. The following time frames should be followed:
- Motrin, aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — stop seven days before your myelogram
- Coumadin — five to seven days before (please consult your imaging physician)
- Lovenox — 24 hours before
- Plavix — seven days before
- Heparin — four hours before
- Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis — five days before
- Any psychological drugs such as antidepressants (MAO inhibitors) and anti-nausea medication — 48 hours before and for 24 hours after the exam
You will be given a list of the medications to stop taking before your procedure.
Please bring a list of your medications you are currently taking the day of your myelogram.
Please discuss with your physician before making any changes to your medication regimen.
If you have ever been told or know you have a contrast allergy please tell you primary care physician so that you can start premedication with prednisone 24 hours before your procedure. You primary doctor will order this medication for you.
Since you will be unable to drive yourself home, please arrange to have someone drive you home.
We want to make your waiting time as pleasant as possible. Consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time.
Please wear comfortable clothing.
An interventional neuroradiologist will discuss your procedure and answer any questions you might have.
After this discussion, you will be asked to sign a consent form giving us permission to perform the test.
You must notify the nurse, technologist and/or imaging physician if you are pregnant before your exam.
This test should not be done if there is a possibility that you might be pregnant, except in an emergency.
During Your Procedure
You will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
You will be asked to lie on your stomach or side on an examination table.
Monitors will be placed on you to measure your heart rate, blood pressure and the oxygen level in your blood. You may also be given intravenous fluids.
A numbing medicine will be injected into the skin of your back.
A second needle will be used to inject the X-ray dye into your spinal column. A sample of your spinal fluid might also be removed for testing.
The examination table will be tilted in different ways to help distribute the dye in your spine.
X-rays will then be taken of your back.
A computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance image (MRI) or both may be taken after your myelogram. Due to scheduling issues, these scans do not always happen immediately after a myelogram. You may have to wait anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours between scans.
After Your Procedure
After the exam, you will be required to remain in bed for 24 hours, sometimes in a bed elevated to 30 degrees.
You will be encouraged to drink lots of fluids.
This exam is not a treatment, it will not lessen your back pain. It will, however, help your physicians to determine the cause of your pain and decide on a course of treatment.
The results of your myelogram will be sent to your physician who will discuss it with you.
To request copies of your films on CD or a copy of your report, please call 310-423-8000, option 2 or submit an online request.
You can be dropped off in front of the South Tower at the main hospital on Gracie Allen Drive.
Parking is available in the South Tower parking lot, also off of Gracie Allen Drive. (If the lot is full, you will be directed to another parking lot.) To enter the parking lot, you need to be driving east on Gracie Allen. You can not turn into the lot if you are westbound.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.
The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.