Is a CT Myelogram Painful?


Quick Answer

A CT myelogram usually isn't painful, but patients may experience an uncomfortable pressure or shooting pain when the needle is inserted during the spinal puncture, according to RadiologyInfo. Some patients feel a stinging sensation from anesthesia injections, and in rare cases, the spinal puncture triggers headaches after the procedure.

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Full Answer

Spinal fluid leakage can occur at the puncture site, causing a patient to develop headaches, Johns Hopkins Medicine states. The medical staff typically monitors the patient's vital signs to detect any excessive leaking, and pain reliever may be provided if the discomfort becomes severe. Patients can also experience pain symptoms if the injection site becomes infected or if internal bleeding develops in the spine.

CT myelography combines two diagnostic imaging techniques to produce well-defined pictures of the structures inside and around the spinal column, RadiologyInfo notes. In a myelogram procedure, a fluoroscope emits continuous x-ray beams through the body to record snapshots of the spinal cord, the nerve roots and the surrounding fluid-filled space, known as the subarachnoid space. A contrast dye is injected into the subarachnoid space, helping to highlight target areas for easier evaluation on the computer.

Computed tomography, or CT, scanning also uses x-ray technology but emits beams around the entire body to capture the spinal structures from multiple views, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. A computer digitally compiles the axial recordings into two-dimensional images of horizontal "slices" of the spine.

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