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myelography imageMyelography is an imaging examination that involves an injection of contrast material in the space around the spinal cord (the subarachnoid space) and nerve roots using a real-time form of X-ray called fluoroscopy.

When the contrast material is injected, the radiologist is able to view and evaluate the status of the spinal cord, nerve roots and meninges, which are the membranes that surround and cover the spinal cord and nerve roots.

Myelography provides a very detailed picture of the spinal cord and spinal column. The radiologist views the passage of contrast material in real-time within the subarachnoid space and takes X-rays of the contrast material around the spinal cord and nerve roots in order to document abnormalities involving or affecting these structures. In most cases, the myelogram is followed by a computed tomography, or a CT scan, to better define the anatomy and any abnormalities.

What Are Some Common Uses of the Myelography?

It is most commonly used to detect abnormalities affecting the spinal cord, the spinal canal, the spinal nerve roots and the blood vessels that supply the spinal cord, including:

  • To show whether herniations of the material between the vertebral bodies, termed the intervertebral disks, are pushing on nerve roots or the spinal cord.
  • To depict a condition that often accompanies degeneration of the bones and soft tissues surrounding the spinal canal, termed spinal stenosis. In this condition, the spinal canal narrows as the surrounding tissues enlarge due to the development of bony spurs (osteophytes) and the adjacent ligaments.

Myelography can also be used to assess the following conditions when an MRI cannot be performed, or in addition to an MRI:

  • Tumors
  • Infection
  • Inflammation of the arachnoid membrane that covers the spinal cord
  • Spinal lesions caused by disease or trauma

A myelogram can show whether surgical treatment is promising in a given case and, if it is, can help in planning surgery.

Who Interprets the Results and How Do I Get Them?

A radiologist—a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations—will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care doctor, who will discuss the results with you.

What Are the Benefits and Risks?

Myelography is relatively safe and painless. Although it is uncommon, headaches following myelography can occur and usually begin when the patient sits upright or stands.

The benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk of not having a myelography performed. Your physician will discuss with you any questions and concerns you have with any of these procedures.

Northside Hospital Imaging has three convenient North Metro Atlanta-area locations in LawrencevilleDuluth or Hamilton Mill. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call 678-312-3444.