We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Lumbar Discogram?

By Rebecca Harkin
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A lumbar discogram is an outpatient, invasive procedure used to evaluate the condition of the disks in the lumbar portion of the spine and determine if these disks are the cause of back pain. During a lumbar discogram, also known as a diskogram, contrast medium is injected into each lumbar spinal disk and then reviewed with an x-ray or computer tomography (CT) scan. The risks associated with a discogram include infection, nerve root damage, and spinal headaches.

The lumbar discogram is performed in a hospital room equipped with either an x-ray or a CT scan. Prior to the procedure, the patient is given an intravenous sedative and sometimes antibiotics. The patient is then positioned on his side to provide access to the back. After sterilizing the injection sites, contrast medium is injected into each lumbar disk. The patient will either feel no pain during this part of the procedure or will feel discomfort similar to the back pain that caused the need for the test.

After the contrast medium has been injected, the disks will be evaluated using either an x-ray or a CT scan to see whether the dye has moved within the lumbar disks. If the dye remains localized in the disk, the disk is healthy. Dye that has diffused from the injection site suggests that the disk has ruptured or torn. Following the review, the patient will be kept resting on the table to allow the sedative to wear off and to be sure the back pain does not intensify. The results of the dye injections and the pain or lack of pain associated with the injection are used to ascertain a diagnosis and determine the course of treatment.

There are a few possible complications associated with a lumbar discogram. The worst complication is discitis, an infection within the disk. This type of infection is difficult to treat, requiring strong antibiotics and mobilization of the back during recovery. Another complication is nerve root damage, which can result in pain or insensitivity in the lower back, bottom, or legs. A lumbar discogram can also produce a spinal headache or an extremely intense headache caused by the puncturing of the membrane surrounding the spinal cord.

This test is most often ordered to help determine the reason for a patient’s persistent back, hip, leg, or groin pain that has not been relieved by standard treatment. It may also be ordered when other diagnostic tools are unable to determine the cause of pain in these areas. A lumbar discogram may occasionally be ordered to evaluate the health of the spinal disks before a lumbar fusion surgery.

The use of the discogram to evaluate back pain is somewhat controversial. Some doctors believe that a discogram is a delicate, invasive surgery that does not always provide solid results and carries substantial risks. Other doctors feel that this procedure provides valuable information that cannot be gained through any other procedure.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.