Lumbar discography is an injection technique used to evaluate patients with back pain who have not responded to extensive conservative (nonsurgical) care regimens. The most common use of discography is for surgical planning prior to a lumbar fusion.
Discography is a very specific tool that may help your health care provider determine if the abnormal disc is causing your pain. Due to conflicting data on the benefits of discography, the use of discography is controversial among spine care physicians. However, many health care providers do find it is helpful in
identifying the source of pain. Because discography is an invasive procedure (it involves putting needles into the disc), it is not performed early in the diagnostic and treatment process. Generally, patients who undergo discography have not gotten satisfactory pain relief from nonoperative measures such as medication, physical therapy and modified activities. They usually have had back pain for at least 4 to 6 months.
Discography is usually used in patients who are being evaluated to determine a specific cause of pain so a new treatment plan (possibly including surgery) can be developed.