What is a Myelogram?

The word "Myelogram" means picture of the spinal cord. A Myelogram is more specifically a picture of the spinal cord and nerve roots in the back or neck area.

Myelography is most commonly used to detect abnormalities of the spinal cord, the spinal canal, the spinal nerve roots and the blood vessels that supply the spinal cord, including:

  • to show whether herniations, or protrusion, or intravertebral disks, are pushing on nerve roots or the spinal cord
  • spinal stenosis (degeneration of the bones & soft tissues surrounding the spinal canal)

Myelography can be used to assess the following conditions when MRI imaging cannot be performed or in addition to MRI:

  • tumors
  • infection
  • inflammation of the arachnoid membrane that covers the spinal cord
  • spinal lesions caused by disease or trauma

A myelogram can show whether surgical treatment is promising in a given case and, can help in planning surgery.

How to Prepare for Your Myelogram

Before the procedure, it is very important that you stop taking several types of medication.

You must contact the Imaging Services Nursing @ (989)839-1523 to review your medication list, medical history, and answer any questions. Imaging Nurses are available from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Night before the procedure:

  • 5 p.m. to Midnight you may eat a regular dinner.
  • Drink at least four 8-ounce glasses of water before going to bed.

Day of the test:

  • You may have breakfast before coming for the procedure.
  • Drink at least four 8-ounce glasses before coming to the hospital.

Report to the Imaging Nursing Services Department, Orchard Building at your scheduled time.

  • You must bring a copy of the Outpatient Order form to the hospital.
  • Bring any films or MRI’s done outside the hospital system that relates to your back.
  • Your stay will be approximately two hours after the test in the Imaging Nursing Dept before you can go home.
  • You must bring someone with you who can drive you home.
  • Women should always inform their physician or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

What You Can Expect During Your Procedure

You will be positioned on the examination table lying face down, and will be secured at the foot rest with straps to keep you from sliding when the table is tilted. The radiologist will first numb the area where he will position a spinal needle with a local anesthetic then may collect some cerebral spinal fluid before injecting a contrast material. The contrast material is injected and the table will be tilted as the contrast material runs up and down the spine and surrounds the nerve roots.

The radiologist will monitor the flow of contrast with fluoroscopy, focusing on the area of your symptoms. Images will be obtained by both the radiologist and technologist; it is important that you remain still. When the procedure is completed in x-ray you will be transferred to CT on a cart, where additional images will be obtained.

Discharge instructions will be provided by the Imaging Nursing Staff.

Time: Approximately 1 hour in X-ray & Approximately 1/2 hour in CT.

What Happens After Your Myelogram

You will stay in the Neuroradiology Department for approximately two hours. A CT Scan will be done within this time. This CT Scan will focus on important areas and aid our Radiologist in the reading of your Myelogram.

Please make arrangements to have someone drive you home. You will need bed rest with the head of the bed elevated 30-40 degrees for the remainder of the day. You may turn from side-to-side, but keep your bed at this angle. You may go to the bathroom as needed. Drink a lot of fluids; you may eat whatever you want.


If you are taking any blood thinners, antidepressant medication, or if you have a history of seizures, please call the Neuroradiology Department at (989) 839-3190 before your appointment date. If you are taking diabetic medications or insulin please ask your physician if any dosage changes are needed. If you are taking Glucophage you must notify your physician at least two days prior to your test date for instructions on stopping this medication. This is extremely important.