CT Myelogram

What is a CT myelogram?

A CT myelogram is an X-ray examination of your spinal cord and spinal nerves enhanced with a dye-like solution injected into the fluid in the spinal column. Myelography can assist in diagnosing such abnormalities as spinal canal narrowing, herniated discs, and other conditions which may cause pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.

Is a CT myelogram painful?

Some patients report discomfort during the injection of the dye; others do not. The CT scan is not painful.

What happens during a CT myelogram?

Once the area is cleansed and a local anesthetic is administered, a needle is placed in either your lower back or the side of your upper neck, depending on where your problem is located.

Subsequently, a fine needle is placed into the spinal fluid space using X-ray guidance, the contrast dye is administered, and the needle is removed.

X-rays will be taken as the dye outlines the spinal cord and nerves. The myelography table may be tilted in order to move the dye to the area of interest.

Once myelography is complete, you will be moved to the CT scanner. You will need to lie as still as possible while these images are being taken. The CT scan provides your doctor with a two or three dimensional view of both bone and soft tissue such as nerves.

How do I prepare for the CT myelogram?

  • Provide your doctor with a list of all your current medications. Some medications are contraindicated and will need to be stopped a few days before the test.
  • Inform your doctor of any allergies you have. Especially important are allergic reactions to contrast die (such as IVP dye) and iodine. Should you have an allergy to contrast dye you will need to be given a prescription for some medication to be taken before the test.
  • No solid foods are to be eaten after midnight the night before your test. Clear liquids only, please. If you are diabetic, notify your medical staff and specific instructions will be given to you.
  • Unless told otherwise, you may take your routine medications the morning of the exam.

Most patients requiring a CT myelogram are hospitalized as a "23-hour admission." Typically, this means you are admitted to the hospital the morning of the test, have the test that afternoon, and return home the following morning.

Keeping you in bed for at least six hours or overnight and monitoring the position of the head of the bed (either flat or elevated to 45 degrees) minimizes the risk of a "spinal headache." It is unlikely this will occur, but should you experience a headache unlike one you may have had at any other time, contact the "on-call" physician for the Department of Neuroradiology listed on the information sheet given to you at the time of your CT myelogram.