Reasons, Preparation and Procedure For Conducting a CT Myelogram

Submitted on March 27, 2012

A myelogram is a type of radiological technique that is used to build up an image of the spinal cord to detect any kind of injuries, lesions, or tumors in the spine. Ideally, the use of CT myelography or the use of a ct scan with a myelogram is the more preferred method. This is because computerized tomography will help the neurosurgeon to build a three dimensional computer generated image of the spine. This is done by taking several two dimensional images and then using a computer to stitch these together to look like one three dimensional image. Today, myelograms are hardly used and the preferred method is mostly MRI and CT scans.

Why is it done?

When you are trying to look for any kind of issues or injury to the spinal cord, it can be extremely tough considering the mineral content within the spine. Apart from this, there is no way to actually look inside the spin without the use of a myelogram.


There is no specific preparation for this procedure except for the fact that you have to be ready to undergo the very unpleasant spinal tap procedure. Additionally, you might have to be ready to be placed upside down and rotated through sixty degrees as part of the procedure. Your doctor might also probably request that an EEG be taken.

How is it done?

The ct myelogram procedure begins with a spinal tap performed on the lumbar region of the spine. This can be an extremely painful process. Once the spinal tap is complete, a contrasting dye injected into the spine. The patient would probably be placed on a rotating table during this time and strapped into place. The table will then rotate in such a way that the patient is upside down for a few minutes and then returned to a normal position. This odd movement is really quite useful because it will allow the contrasting dye some time to get into and spread in the spine. Xrays are then taken and a blood patch is used to seal the wound to the spinal column. After this kind of a procedure, most patients are advised to not stand upright for some time until they are confident. If there are any complications, the patient must immediately contact a doctor. Any kind of excessive movement is discouraged because of this unpleasant fact that the blood patch could come loose.

Technique Used

CT myelogram technique is a diagnostic technique that utilizes a contrast material and then uses X-rays to diagnose specific problems in the body. This imaging technique may be used for diagnosing various disorders of the spine. It could be performed to check for herniated discs, spondylosis, and arthritis, among other problems. CT myelogram technique is very simple. You begin with a lumbar puncture in which the dye is inserted into the spinal canal. The doctor will make you sleep on your stomach and will clean the back area where the imaging is going to be performed. The doctor would then give you a local anesthesia on the skin. A thin needle will then be inserted in the spinal canal. X-rays are then taken of this area. The doctor usually takes a small sample of spinal fluid before injecting the dye into the spine.

During the time when the dye is being put in, it is necessary that you lie very still so that pictures of your spine can be taken. The doctor will then put a small needle into the back. The doctor will then give you instructions on the after care. Once the images are taken, the doctor will bandage the area of the puncture following which the doctor will instruct you on what else needs to be done once the test is over.

Risks, Side Effects & CPT Code

There may be some CT myelogram side effects if the test is not performed correctly. Some of these common side effects include nausea, headaches, and vomiting. The headaches are usually mild and may only last a few hours, but the nausea may linger. Though it is rare, sometimes some patients may experience seizures after the test. This occurs once the dye enters into the spinal canal and leaks into the brain. To prevent this from occurring, the doctor would advise you to keep your head slightly raised. Another one of the CT myelogram risks is that the spinal fluid leaks out. The doctor may use an epidural blood patch to seal this leak. The CT myelogram CPT code is 61055.

CT Myelogram Lumbar Spine Test

A CT myelogram lumbar spine test may be done for the diagnosis of several different disorders related to the spine. If you have numbness in the arm or the leg, you may have this test performed. The CT myelogram of lumbar spine is also done to check for narrowness in the spinal canal. This condition is known as spinal stenosis. The CPT code for CT myelogram lumbar spine test is 61055. This code allows the testing facility to catalogue your results and give you specific diagnostic tests. The spinal diagnosis can also help you determine if there are any tumors or infections along your spinal canal. If there are any masses pressing on the nerve roots, causing pain and discomfort, this can be identified using the diagnostic test.

Some of the other conditions that can be diagnosed using this test include a herniated disc and inflammation of the myelin sheath or the membrane that covers and protects that brain, nerves and the spinal cord. This test can also help you diagnose problems with the blood vessels that bring blood and nutrition to your spine and the spinal cord. If there is pain in your spine, and other diagnostic tests have not been able to find the origin of this pain, the CT myelogram is used as a substitution to CAT and MRI scans. The myelogram may also be used to complement or augment other imaging and diagnostic techniques. If you are pregnant, or if you have seizures, allergic reactions, asthma, kidney problems,and bleeding problems, discuss these with your doctor before the test.