Discography is a provocative diagnostic procedure which is used to determine if back pain is caused by one or more discs. The procedure involves the suspicious disc, one disc above, one disc below and one healthy disc. An injection of sterile liquid is applied to induce pain or pressure in the discs.

During the procedure the patient lies on stomach or side on a table equipped with fluoroscopy and takes intravenous anesthetic medication for relaxation. It is very important for the patient to be awake enough to inform the physician about all sensations and feelings.

Local anesthetic is then used to numb the skin and tissue down to the disc area. A physician uses fluoroscopy to find the right spot and places a guide needle to the edge of the disc. A small needle is inserted through the guide needle to the center of the disc. After all the needles are placed the discs are pressured one at a time with a contrast solution. The healthy disc may feel pressure, but the damaged disc feels pain. If pain appears it is very important for the patient to compare that pain with the pain he/she has been feeling. If the pain is the same, the damaged disc is found. After X-ray pictures are taken, the needles are removed.


Possible side effects could be compared with common injection side effects, i.e. allergic reaction, bacterial infection, and bleeding in seldom cases. During discography no steroid medication is used.

It is very important that the patient inform the physician about pregnancy or if he/she is taking blood thinning medication.