What is a myelogram?

Myelography is the name that doctors use for taking pictures of the inside of the spine.  This requires injection of a dye containing iodine into the middle of the spine where there is a clear watery fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) which surrounds the spinal cord and communicates with the same fluid that is both inside and around the brain.

For a morning appointment, no food after midnight, but continue to drink clear fluids.

For an afternoon appointment, restrict yourself to clear fluids from 7am, after breakfast.


It is important to contact us and let us know if you:

  • Are taking any blood thinning medications or have an iodine allergy prior to the appointment.
  • Have a history of epilepsy
  • Are currently taking any medication for depression, anxiety or other mental illness
  • Are or there is a possibility of pregnancy
  • Have had a previous reaction to iodine.


On the day of your procedure you will be admitted to Day Stay under your private health insurance. You will need to present to admissions on Level 1 and our porters will bring you down from the ward on a bed.

The procedure usually takes about forty five (45) minutes. You will however remain in the day surgery area for up to 4 hours post procedure for observation.

You will be moved into our x-ray room and asked to lie face down on the table.


The region over the spine will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution and covered with sterile drape. The radiologist will inject the area with a local anaesthetic to numb the skin. A very thin needle is positioned between the bones of your spine into the spinal canal. The dye is carefully injected while the radiologist watches on an x-ray screen to ensure the dye goes into the correct position. Once the dye is injected, the needle is removed and a series of x-rays performed with you in different positions.


If we are performing a myelogram of your lower back (lumbar myelogram), most of the x-rays are performed with you lying on your stomach or standing upright on the tilting table. If we are performing x-rays of your neck (cervical myelogram) you will have to lie in a fairly uncomfortable position with your head tilted back as far as it can go.  Myelograms of the neck are not the easiest to tolerate, mainly because of this difficult position.


Following this part of the test and after the needle has been removed, we move you to another room to do a CT scan while the dye is in place to provide extra information about your nerves and spine.

A porter will return you to the NSPH Day Ward where they will observe you for up to four (4) hours, after which you will be free to leave.


For your comfort it is recommended you:

  • Take it easy for the next forty-eight (48) hours
  • No heavy lifting for forty-eight (48) hours.
  • Resume your normal activities gradually

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