Discography interpretation and techniques in the lumbar spine

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  • Department of Neurosurgery, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Tulsa, Oklahoma
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The authors provide an indepth analysis of discography, a provocative diagnostic tool to determine the origin of low-back pain. Injecting the intervertebral disc with radiopaque dye provides physicians with several useful pieces of information. First, the modality provides radiographic evaluation of the integrity of the nucleus pulposus and anular rings to determine tears or other lesions that could be creating low-back pain. Second, and very important, is its measure of disc nociception. A normal disc should not cause pain when injected; however, a disc that is physiologically compromised can mimic the pain previously experienced by a patient. The authors review the indications, technique, and interpretation of discography to allow a better understanding of when to use this diagnostic test and what to do with the results.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

CT = computerized tomography; HIZ = high-intensity zone; MR = magnetic resonance; PLL = posterior longitudinal ligament; SAP = superior articular process.

The authors provide an indepth analysis of discography, a provocative diagnostic tool to determine the origin of low-back pain. Injecting the intervertebral disc with radiopaque dye provides physicians with several useful pieces of information. First, the modality provides radiographic evaluation of the integrity of the nucleus pulposus and anular rings to determine tears or other lesions that could be creating low-back pain. Second, and very important, is its measure of disc nociception. A normal disc should not cause pain when injected; however, a disc that is physiologically compromised can mimic the pain previously experienced by a patient. The authors review the indications, technique, and interpretation of discography to allow a better understanding of when to use this diagnostic test and what to do with the results.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

CT = computerized tomography; HIZ = high-intensity zone; MR = magnetic resonance; PLL = posterior longitudinal ligament; SAP = superior articular process.

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