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A myelogram uses X-rays and a special dye to make pictures of bones and nerves of the spine (spinal canal). The spinal canal holds the spinal cord, the spinal nerve roots, and the fluid-filled space between the bones in your spine.
A myelogram is done to check for:
This test may help find the cause of pain that can't be found by other tests, such as an MRI or a CT scan.
Your doctor will tell you if you need to change how much you eat and drink before the myelogram. You may be asked to increase the amount of water you drink before the test. Follow the instructions your doctor gives you about eating and drinking.
If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your test. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
The dye is put into your spinal canal with a thin needle. This is called a lumbar puncture. The dye moves through the space so the nerve roots and spinal cord can be seen more clearly. After the dye is put in, you will lie still while the X-ray pictures are taken.
You will feel a quick sting from a small needle that has medicine to numb the skin on your back. You will also feel some pressure as the long, thin spinal needle is put into your spinal canal. You may feel a quick, sharp pain down your buttock or leg when the needle is moved in your spine. You may find it hard to lie on your stomach or side during this test.
The dye may make you feel warm and flushed and have a metallic taste in your mouth. Some people feel sick to their stomach or have a headache. Tell your doctor how you are feeling.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or Health Link at 811 or seek immediate medical care if:
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.
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Adaptation Date: 2/25/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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