Diagnosing Pain with Discography | Reston | Virginia Spine Institute



Providing fundamental information for your diagnosis

Discography is a diagnostic test performed by your doctor to determine if the intervertebral discs in your spine are responsible for some or all of your back pain. Under x-ray guidance, small needles are placed in the center of the disc. Then a special dye called contrast is injected into the disc under pressure. In a healthy disc, the dye collects in the center and does not cause pain. In an unhealthy disc, the dye may spread to the outer edges of the disc and reproduce your back pain. Based on how you respond to each injection, your physician can determine if those discs that were tested need to be addressed in your treatment plan to get you out of pain. All of our operative and non-operative providers are proficient in performing discography. We believe in the importance of diagnostic testing to help our patients with a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Benefits of Discography

  • This is an outpatient procedure
  • It helps isolate the disc or discs that are part of your pain
  • The procedure takes only 30-45 minutes

Discography FAQ

How is a discogram performed?

A needle is inserted into the disc and dye in injected to see if there is any leakage, which indicates a tear in the disc. The pressure from the dye can reproduce the symptoms confirming the location of the patient’s discomfort. Normal appearing disc levels are also tested as a control to confirm these are not contributing to the patient’s symptoms. Our providers at the Virginia Spine Institute would perform the test in the office or at a hospital setting. The patient would receive medication to make them comfortable for the procedure.

How painful is a discogram?

Unfortunately the nature of the test is to try and reproduce your back pain in order to determine if a certain disc or discs are involved. We utilize IV sedation and pain medication to help with the discomfort. We make sure you are comfortable and have medicines for pain before you go home after the procedure.

How long does pain last after a discogram?

You should expect to have some increased discomfort in your back a few days after the procedure. It is uncommon but some patients may request stronger pain medication after the procedure.

Meet Our Spinal Specialists

Dr. Christopher Good I Spine Surgeon

Spine Surgeon
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Colin Haines I Spine Surgeon

Spine Surgeon
Director of Research

Dr. Ehsan Jazini I Spine Surgeon

Spine Surgeon

Dr. Thomas Schuler I Spine Surgeon

Spine Surgeon

Hear From Our Patients

“You don’t realize how much pain you’re in until you don’t have any.”


– Tommy W.

“Virginia Spine Institute didn’t tell me what I wouldn’t be able to do, they told me what I could do.”


– Abby B.

“Over 7,000 miles of travel was well worth it to receive the best spine care in the world from Virginia Spine Institute!”


– Omar A.

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