Myelography is a procedure using x-ray, specifically fluoroscopy to study the spinal canal. Pictures of the cavity within the bones of the spine are taken by injecting a contrast material (a special die that contains iodine) into the fluid-filled space that surrounds the nerve roots and spinal cord. As the contrast spreads, abnormalities can be x-rayed and studied.

Myelography can be used to:

– Detect a blockage in the spinal canal that may be caused by a tumor or by a spinal disc that has ruptured (herniated).
– Detect inflammation of the membrane (arachnoid membrane) that covers the brain and spinal cord.
– Detect abnormalities in the blood supply to the spinal cord.
– Detect problems of the spinal cord and the nerves that branch off from the spinal cord.

When it is time for your appointment, a friendly technician will ask you to lie on your stomach or side on an x-ray table and try to make you as comfortable as possible. A local anesthetic will be injected under the skin where a thin needle will be inserted into the spinal canal to inject the contrast material.

The needle is usually injected in your lower back- commonly known as a spinal tap, but is sometimes injected at the base of your skull. The contrast material often gives patients a warm sensation, but the needle might cause sharp pain as it moves around.

A continuous series of x-ray pictures are taken while you continue to lie in position without moving. Your head will be positioned with your neck extended to prevent the contrast material from entering your head and potentially causing seizures. Your pulse and breathing may be monitored throughout the procedure. Following the procedure, your doctor will instruct you how to take care of yourself. Usually, you are recommended to keep your head elevated and to avoid bending over or lying flat. This helps to prevent seizures.


Nausea, headaches, and/or vomiting are side-effects that approximately 20% of patients experience following the procedure. However, these symptoms ought to retreat within 24 hours. If not, it may be necessary to contact your physician.

The primary risk is an allergic reaction to the contrast die. However, if you report all present and past allergies, these reactions ought to be able to be prevented.

Patients are also at risk of seizures in the case that the contrast material reaches the patient’s head. However, the staff at Advanced Radiology are aware of both of these risks are able to prevent both severe allergic reactions and seizures by using proper techniques.

– Do not eat anything after midnight the evening before your myelogram
– Discontinue blood thinners prior to the test
– Pre-arrange a ride home from the hospital because you will be unable to drive
– Take your scheduled medication with clear liquid, unless the referring physician has instructed otherwise


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