St. Luke's University Health Network


Myelography is used to examine conditions of the spine

Myelography is used to examine tumors, infections and other conditions that affect the spinal cord, spinal canal, spinal nerve roots and the blood vessels that supply the spinal cord. The test involves injecting a dye, commonly referred to as a “contrast material,” into the space around the spinal cord. Using a technique called “fluoroscopy,” which is a real-time form of an X-ray, the radiologist can see the internal organs in motion and evaluate how the contrast material is flowing through the spinal cord. If any abnormalities are seen, the myelography is most often followed up by a Computed Tomography (CT) scan.

When is a Myelogram Needed?

Examinations of the spinal cord are most commonly done using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A myelogram is called for when someone is prevented from undergoing an MRI because of implanted medical devices, such as a pacemaker, or other reasons. 

For those who can undergo MRI examinations, myelograms can be performed in conjunction with an MRI to further study abnormalities.

In addition, a myelogram can help show if surgery would be an appropriate treatment and can help in the planning process.

Key Facts about Myelograms

  • Myelograms are done on an outpatient basis and are completed within 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Since CT scans are typically done while the contrast material is in the spinal canal, the additional scan will take another 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Myelograms are relatively safe and painless.
  • No radiation remains in the body after the examination.
  • There usually are no side effects.

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