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Myelogram

Risks

There is some risk of problems with this test.

  • Some people who have a myelogram develop a headache, nausea, or vomiting after the test. The headache may last for 24 hours. In rare cases, a seizure may occur after the dye is put into the spinal canal.
  • There is a small risk of a seizure if the dye moves to the brain. This is why if or when you lie down, you need to keep your head raised higher than your body.
  • There is a small risk of infection at the needle site or bleeding into the spinal canal.
  • In rare cases, the hole made by the needle in the sac around the spine does not close normally. This can allow spinal fluid to leak out. This leak may need to be repaired through a procedure called an epidural blood patch. To do the patch, your doctor injects some of your own blood to cover the hole.
  • There is a small risk of having an allergic reaction to the dye. You will be given medicine for a reaction.
  • There is a risk of kidney problems if you take metformin (Glucophage) to control your diabetes.
  • In rare cases, inflammation of the spinal cord, weakness, numbness, paralysis, or loss of control of your bowel or bladder may develop.
  • Also in rare cases, the dye may cause blockage of the spinal canal. If this occurs, surgery is usually needed.
  • There is always a slight chance of damage to cells or tissue from radiation, including the low levels of radiation used for this test. But the chance of damage from the X-rays is usually very low compared with the benefits of the test.

After the test

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have a seizure.

Call your doctor right away if you:

  • Have any increase in pain, weakness, or numbness in your legs.
  • Have a severe headache or stiff neck, or if your eyes become very sensitive to light.
  • Have a headache that lasts longer than 24 hours.
  • Have problems urinating or having a bowel movement.
  • Develop a fever.

Results

Your doctor will talk to you about the results of your test.

Myelogram
Normal:

The dye flows evenly through the spinal canal.

The spinal cord is normal in size, position, and shape. The nerves leaving the spinal cord are normal.

No narrowing or blockage of the spinal canal is seen.

Abnormal:

The flow of dye is blocked or diverted. This may be due to a ruptured herniated disc, spinal stenosis, a nerve injury, an abscess, or a tumor.

Inflammation of the membrane (arachnoid membrane) that covers the spinal cord is seen.

One or more nerves leaving the spinal cord are pinched.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 28, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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