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A discogram is a diagnostic test that can help determine if a specific intervertebral disc or discs are causing pain. This test can be used to confirm whether a disc is suspected as a possible generator before surgical intervention is initiated.

How It Works

During a cervical discogram, the discs in question are accessed via needle under live x-ray guidance and then pressurized by injecting contrast through the needle to see if this reproduces the patient’s baseline daily pain.

  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach.
  • The injection site will be cleaned with an antiseptic, and a sterile drape will be placed.
  • Your Center for Pain Management physician will direct a guide needle toward the annulus (the exterior casing) of each disc in question.
  • A smaller needle through this guide needle will be advanced toward the center of the annulus into the gel portion called the nucleus pulposus.
  • Then, the discs will be pressurized one at a time, and you will be asked whether or not this reproduces your pain.
  • Contrast dye is also be injected into the discs to identify tears within the annulus to grade the severity of disruption within the annulus.


Similar to any other procedure or medication, there are potential risks of infection, bleeding, allergic reaction, and prolonged increases in pain. Your physicians will use x-ray guidance throughout the procedure and sterile techniques to significantly reduce the risks.