A lumbar myelogram procedure typically takes between 30 to 60 minutes, according to Mount Sinai Hospital. Doctors often order a CT scan after myelogram procedures to view the spread of the contrast dye, and this takes an additional 30 to 60 minutes.
A myelogram is an imaging test doctors use to view the spinal cord and detect problems such as herniated discs, spinal tumors and stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal. The test utilizes a special contrast dye, which allows doctors to outline the spinal cord and nerves clearly, as reported by Mount Sinai Hospital.
Although rare, possible complications associated with the procedure include spinal cord inflammation or infection, bleeding, headache and allergic reaction to the contrast dye, according to Mount Sinai Hospital. Patients can expect to experience some pressure or pain when the doctor inserts the needle into the vertebrae. Although anesthesia is typically not administered prior to a myelogram, doctors may prescribe a mild sedative to prevent pain. In some cases, patients may request local anesthetic.
Patients should avoid all strenuous activity for one to two days following a myelogram, states Mount Sinai Hospital. To reduce discomfort, patients may wish to lie on their back for the first 24 hours following the procedure. Patients should contact their doctor immediately if they experience signs of infection, neck stiffness, leg numbness, difficulty urinating, vomiting or symptoms of an allergic reaction.