Discogram: During the Test


A discogram may be painful. But it can give your doctor vital information to help plan your treatment.

You will lie on your stomach or your side on an exam table. You may be given medication, possibly through an IV (a tube placed intravenously or in a vein), to help you relax. The doctor cleans your lower back and covers the area with sterile drapes. The region is numbed with medication. A needle is placed into each disc being tested. Then a contrast solution is injected into one or more of the discs in your spine.

Image of person on table, face down, with the discogram machine.

What to expect

  • Injecting the disc is typically painful; however, the character of the pain is very helpful for diagnosis. Your doctor will ask you if the pain is the same or different than the pains you normally have that led to the testing.

  • The pain may be worse than your usual pain. Make sure to tell your doctor how you feel.

  • A picture of the disc is taken.

  • It is possible that more than one of your discs will be tested. This is so the results of the two tests can be compared, which can help to identify the source of your pain. 

A discogram image