Type of Surgery
Last updated: 11/24/2009
Headache is a common complication of myelography. It may begin several hours to several days after the examination. The cause is thought to be changes in cerebrospinal fluid pressure, not a reaction to the dye. The headache may be mild and easily alleviated...
with rest and increased fluids. Sometimes, nonprescription medicines are recommended. In some instances, the headache may be more severe and require stronger medication or other measures for relief. Many factors influence whether the patient develops this problem, including the type of the needle used and his or her age and gender. Patients with a history of chronic or recurrent headaches are more likely to develop a headache after a myelogram.
The chance of a reaction to the contrast material is a very small, but potentially significant risk. It is estimated that only 5â€“10% of patients experience any effect from contrast exposure. The vast majority of reactions are mild, such as sneezing, nausea, or anxiety. These usually resolve by themselves. A moderate reaction, like wheezing or hives, may be treated with medication, but is not considered life threatening. Severe reactions, such as heart or respiratory failure, occur very infrequently, and require emergency medical treatment.
Rare complications of myelography include injury to the nerve roots from the needle or from bleeding into the spaces around the roots. Inflammation of the delicate covering of the spinal cord, called arachnoiditis, or infections, can also occur. Seizures are another very uncommon complication reported after myelography.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus or NPH is described in this animation showing the ventricles of the brain and the flow of cerebrospinal fluid or CSF. The cause is not precisely known but can caused nausea, vomiting, headache, and problems walking among other symptoms.
Myelography is a type of radiographic examination that uses a contrast medium to detect pathology of the spinal cord, including the location of a spinal cord injury, cysts, and tumors. The procedure often involves injection of contrast medium into the cervical or lumbar spine, followed by several X-ray projections. A myelogram may help to find the cause of pain not found by an MRI or CT. Myelography has been largely replaced by the use of CT and MRI scans.
A CT is typically performed after myelographic material has been placed with fluoroscopic guidance. A CT myelogram is most useful for patients who cannot undergo MRI (eg those with pacemakers or cochlear implants) or for those in whom MRI provides limited information (eg those with extensive metal in the spine).
More than 60 percent of procedures neurosurgeons perform are spine-related, according to the National Neurosurgical Procedural Statistics 2006 Survey from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS).
Find a Qualified Specialist
Looking for a specialist?
Please enter your zip code.