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  • A myelogram is a series of X-rays taken after a healthcare provider injects contrast dye into your child’s spinal column. It may be done to check for problems with disks, tumors, infections, or other problems in the spine.
  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how and when you will hear your child’s test results.
  • Make sure you know what symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them.


What is a myelogram?

A myelogram is a series of X-rays taken after a healthcare provider injects contrast dye into your child’s spinal column. Sometimes a CT scan is done after the myelogram. A CT scan uses X-rays and a computer to show detailed pictures of the spinal cord and nerves around it.

When is it used?

The bones of the spine protect the spinal cord, which is a bundle of nerves that runs down the middle of your child’s back. This bundle of nerves is protected by the bones of the spine and spinal fluid. Disks are rubbery cushions that act as shock absorbers between the bones of the spine. A myelogram may be done to check for:

  • Blockage of the flow of spinal fluid
  • Problems with disks in the spine
  • Bone spurs in the spine
  • Tumors or other growths in the spine or spinal cord
  • Infection
  • Blood vessel problems

How do I prepare my child for this procedure?

  • Your child may or may not need to take regular medicines the day of the procedure. Tell the healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements your child takes. Some products may increase the risk of side effects. Ask the healthcare provider if your child needs to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any food, medicine, or other allergies such as latex.
  • Tell your child’s healthcare provider if your older child is or may be pregnant or is breastfeeding.
  • Your child’s provider will tell you when your child needs to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep your child from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Your child should empty his or her bladder and bowel before the test. Sometimes the healthcare provider will want your child to take a laxative or an enema.
  • Follow any instructions your child’s healthcare provider may give you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your child’s provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your child’s healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

Your child will be given medicines that make him or her feel relaxed. Your child may stay awake during the test if your child is older. Your child may be given a local anesthetic to numb the area where the needle will be inserted.

Your child will lie face down on a tilting table under the X-ray machine. Your child’s healthcare provider will inject the dye at the base of your child’s spine. Your child will feel a brief sting when this happens. Tilting the table allows control of the flow of the dye in your child’s body.

The provider may insert a needle into the space around the spine to get a sample of fluid for lab tests.

The test takes 30 to 60 minutes.

What happens after the procedure?

After the procedure your child may stay in a recovery area for up to 4 hours.

Ask your child’s provider:

  • How and when you will get your child’s test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • Your child may have problems with anesthesia.
  • Rarely, your child may have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye.
  • Your child may have an infection or bleeding.
  • The nerves in your child’s spinal cord may be damaged.
  • Your child may have a headache for 2 or 3 days after the procedure that is better when your child lies flat.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that your child may have.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2022-01-03
Last reviewed: 2018-06-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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