Discography & Disc Pain

For those experiencing back or neck pain, pinpointing the source and the most suitable treatment plan is essential to returning to a healthy and pain free lifestyle. In just the past decade, rapid advances in science and technology have led to improved diagnostic testing and treatment methods across all medical fields. This has resulted in less-invasive testing modalities and improved diagnostic tools.

What is a Discography?


Discography is a procedure used in the diagnosis of certain types of back pain to determine if an abnormal disc is the source of your symptoms. By and large, this procedure has been replaced by newer and simpler methods like MR imaging, however, it is still used in certain hard-to-diagnose cases or before surgery.

How is a Discography Performed?

A discography involves the injection of a contrast dye (a liquid that shows up on X-ray) into the jellylike center of a spinal disc. If the disc is normal, then the X-ray dye will remain in the center of the disc. However, if the disc is damaged, this will be evident when viewed through the X-ray device if the dye is leaking out of the disc. The contrast spreads through the tears in the disc.

Throughout a discography, your physician will also measure the amount of pressure needed to inject the dye into the disc and whether or not this elicits the same painful symptoms that you have been experiencing.

A typical discography procedure takes anywhere from 30 – 45 minutes. It is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. For a lumbar (lower back) discography, 2 – 4 discs are typically examined.

While discography procedures are no longer a primary diagnostic tool used to identify the source of back pain, they are still useful for patients who have failed to improve with conservative treatments. If a variety of spinal diagnostic procedures have been employed, but the primary pain generator has still yet to be found, then your doctor may recommend a discography.

Schedule a Pain Management Consultation

If you have been experiencing pain in the back, neck, legs or any other region of the body, contact the Diagnostic Pain Center in Austin. As our name implies, our clinic offers the most advanced diagnostic testing available to identify the correct source of your painful symptoms. Call (512) 981-7246 now to schedule an appointment.