A lumbar diskogram entails a physician injecting dye into the soft center of one or more spinal disks to determine the cause of back pain, according to Mayo Clinic. The dye also highlights cracks and other damage that are seen on an X-ray or CT scan.
A diskogram is usually performed in a hospital or clinic room that contains imaging equipment, Mayo Clinic explains. The patient lies on his abdomen on a table. Most patients are awake during the diskogram, but the doctor often gives an intravenous sedative to help the patient relax as well as antibiotics to prevent infection.
Usually the doctor numbs the area with an injection before inserting a needle into each disk, Mayo Clinic reports. The doctor uses a technique called fluoroscopy to help insert the needle in the appropriate spot. If the disk is damaged, it sometimes reproduces the pain the patient has. Throughout the procedure the patient is asked to rate his pain.
The doctor injects dye through the needle and then uses an X-ray or CT scan to determine if the dye has spread, Mayo Clinic states. If the dye doesn't spread, the disk is healthy. If it spreads, it may be the source of the pain.