Myelogram, a diagnostic imaging test also known as myelography is an imaging procedure to rule out the problem of excruciating back pain. The test is done to determine and examine the relationship between vertebrae and discs through the spinal cord and nerve roots reflecting anomalies in and around the spinal cord.

When a CT scan, MRI, and spinal X-rays with other spinal tests are not able to find the cause of pain, or additional information is required by doctors before deciding on the flow of treatment, they suggest a myelogram. This test is particularly useful in terms of displaying a clearer picture of the bones, herniated discs, and other soft tissues surrounding your spinal canal that may be compressing the nerve roots or the spinal cord and causing chronic pain. The procedure is not very lengthy, and food can be consumed until three hours before the test.


A myelogram uses X-rays and a special dye called contrast material to visualize the spaces between the bones in your spinal column and to assess the subarachnoid space. The dye blends with the spinal fluid, giving a clear vision of the bones and soft tissues that might be causing symptoms. It is often confused with lumbar puncture since the two are similar in their procedures. While both the tests are advised to find out the spinal abnormalities, a lumbar puncture involves withdrawing cerebrospinal fluid for study, and a myelogram involves injecting a special dye for evaluation of spinal pathology. The placement and location of the needle is same for both procedures.

Also Read: Lumbar Puncture: Procedure, Risks, And Results

What abnormalities can be noticed in the myelogram?

A myelogram provides a comprehensive delineation of pathologic spine conditions, especially those involving the thecal sac that consists of cerebrospinal fluid, a liquid that provides nutrients to the spinal cord. The abnormalities that are clearly visible in this test responsible for causing this pain and creating unwanted pressure on the spine are:

  • An infection or inflammation in the spinal area
  • Arthritis in spinal joints
  • Tumours of the spine or the areas surrounding the spine
  • Cysts that are filled with fluid or solid matter
  • Herniated or bulging discs
  • Injury or wear and tear of spinal nerve roots


Since during this invasive procedure, a contrast material is directly injected through a needle into your spine, there are certain risks that come along such as the spinal fluid infection, allergic reaction to the material, short-term numbness of the legs, or bleeding around your spine.

Post Test Risks

Following the myelogram test, immediately notify your physician if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Fluid leakage from the punctured area
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Seizures
  • Chronic pain or inflammation anywhere in the body


The myelogram test has played an important role in the evaluation of spinal ailments. The test does not have potential side effects, can be done in one hour and the chances of reactions are minimal.

However, post the test it is advisable to take rest for a couple of days, drink a lot of fluids and stay away from alcohol. It is extremely important to not engage in any heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity for at least next 48 hours.