An X-ray record of the spinal cord is called a myelogram, states the Mayfield Clinic. Regular X-rays do not show the interior of the spinal canal, but the contrast dye used during a myelogram makes it possible to see the spinal cord and surrounding nerves.
During a myelogram, the doctor inserts a needle into the spinal canal, explains the Mayfield Clinic. Once the doctor injects contrast dye into the canal, a technician uses a CT scanner or X-ray machine to take pictures. These pictures aid in the diagnosis of spine tumors, bone spurs, infections, narrowing of the spinal canal and herniated discs.
Before having a myelogram, it is important to drink as much fluid as possible, as recommended by the Mayfield Clinic. Patients should refrain from drinking or eating anything after midnight on the night of the procedure. When it is time for the myelogram, the doctor cleans the back with an antiseptic and numbs the area with a local anesthetic. Once the procedure site is numb, the doctor inserts a hollow needle, which may cause a stinging sensation or feeling of pressure in the back. Once the myelogram is over, the patient must stay in bed for 24 hours and keep his head elevated at a 30-degree angle.