Myelogram: Common Uses, Preparation, Procedure, Benefits and Risks

It is normally executed after a surgical intervention in that area of ​​the body to validate that everything has gone as planned by the treating physician.

It is the set of images produced by a medical examination using X-rays, called myelography, which is performed by inserting a needle into the spinal canal to introduce a contrast liquid just around the spinal cord and adjacent nerves to visualize more clearly the space you want to observe.

It is also widely used in patients who cannot undergo an MRI, but the doctor needs to evaluate the condition or abnormalities of the spinal cord and its surroundings.

In general, the specialist doctor must visualize the passage of the contrast liquid in real time and after examining the myelogram, proceed to perform a computed tomography to better visualize the anatomy and its possible anomalies.

Previous Preparation

The patient should notify his doctor if he is being treated with anticoagulants, because he will have to stop taking them before undergoing the myelogram. Also medications that are antidepressants or antipsychotics.

Similarly, you should avoid the consumption of solid foods and increase your fluid intake to ensure the accuracy of the test results.

It is not recommended that the patient take jewelry to the health center where the myelogram will be performed, since they must be removed before starting. You will also need to wear loose, comfortable clothing to make it easier to remove when your doctor tells you to.

It is important that the patient notify his doctor if he has had allergies to liquids or contrast materials in the past, since these types of allergies are usually very careful.

Common uses

There are some patients who cannot undergo magnetic resonance imaging, being the first examination by ruling out to carry out an imaging study, because it has some intervention, such as a cardiac pacemaker , which prevents this type of evaluation.

That is why a myelography is chosen, given even more information or material in the myelograms to study the patient’s case.

Myelography is frequently used in complications related to the spinal cord, the spinal canal, the blood vessels supplying the spinal cord, and the roots of the nerves.

Conditions detected with myelograms can be:

  • Herniated intervertebral disc between successive vertebral bodies.
  • Degeneration of the tissues and bones found in the spinal canal.
  • Tumors in the meninges, in the spinal cord, in the bony spinal column and in the nerve roots.
  • Infections in the intervertebral discs, in the meninges, in the bone spine and in the surrounding soft tissues.
  • The inflamed arachnoid membrane.
  • Trauma or injury to the spinal cord.

This type of study also makes it possible to determine if the patient needs a planned or emergency surgical intervention, especially those with spinal instrumentation such as:

  • Plates.
  • Screws or nails.
  • Rods.


Women who must undergo this study and are pregnant, should notify their doctor to determine if it is strictly necessary, since this can affect the normal development of the unborn.

Myelography procedure

In general, this type of study is carried out on an outpatient basis in the health center, clinic or hospital chosen by the patient or determined by the treating physician.

The doctor must explain the procedure to the patient before submitting it to the evaluation, which consists of:

  • The patient is lying on the examination table.
  • The doctor projects radiographic images using the fluoroscope to determine the appropriate area to inject the contrast material.
  • A local anesthetic is applied to the patient in the area where the injection with the contrast will be injected to avoid future ailments and discomfort.
  • Contrast liquid is injected into the patient into the lumbar spinal canal or the upper part of the spine.
  • If the patient requires it, a quantity of cerebrospinal fluid can be removed and sent to the laboratory for study.
  • As the contrast liquid spreads over the area, the doctor monitors its trajectory, while the images are taken with the myelogram.
  • After completing the procedure, the patient takes a more comfortable posture while the doctor verifies that no image was blurred.
  • The study generally takes 30 to 60 minutes.


Among the benefits provided by this study can be mentioned:

  • It does not generate pain.
  • It is a safe study.
  • It does not generate side effects.
  • The patient does not suffer or is left with radiation.

Risks of myelography

Among the risks that arise in this study can be mentioned:

  • Possibility of activating cancer cells by exposure to radiation.
  • Possible pressure in the skull that generates headache from the puncture.
  • Spinal needle injury.
  • The surroundings of the spinal canal can suffer from a hemorrhage.
  • The meninges near the spinal cord can become inflamed.