Before we plan your care, we conduct a thorough exam. This may involve diagnostic procedures, depending on what your care has consisted of prior to visiting Deuk Spine Institute.
An accurate diagnosis gives our team the power to treat and cure your symptoms.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and a magnetic field to take incredibly detailed pictures of the organs and tissues in your body. It’s an incredibly useful, non-invasive method of helping your physician determine the cause of your pain and the condition of your spine. Our facility has a state-of-the-art Open MRI scanner on location, making it easier for you to get to the bottom of your pain without having to go to multiple facilities.
Abnormalities on an MRI don’t necessarily cause pain. Discography is a safe and reliable diagnostic test to evaluate an abnormal spinal disc to see if it’s causing pain. It’s only performed when necessary — typically when surgery is being considered as a treatment option for damaged spinal discs.
During a discogram, dye is injected into the disc’s center. Pictures of the disc taken after the dye has been injected will demonstrate “abnormal” dye patterns (abnormal nucleogram, fissuring of the annulus) when there is internal damage to the spinal disc. This information along with the patient’s pain response recorded at the precise moment the dye is injected into the spinal disc will guide future treatment of the damaged disc.
During this outpatient procedure, a physician directs a thin needle under x-ray guidance into the spinal discs that need to be evaluated. X-ray imaging helps to guide the needle. A small amount of contrast dye allows the physician determine the extent of disc damage and the cause of your pain. During the procedure, your physician asks you a few basic questions. Directly after the discography, a CT scan is performed to identify internal architecture with excellent resolution.
Sedation is used to minimize your discomfort, but injection site tenderness is common and can be treated with ice packs applied for 15 minutes at a time. Plan on spending the whole day having a discogram and taking it easy at home. Patients typically resume normal activity the next day.
Medial Branch Block
A medial branch block is a special injection used to determine whether or not pain is caused by the facet joint. The medial branch block injection temporarily interrupts pain signals carried by the medial branch nerves that carry signals from the spine’s facet joint.
If the injection relieves pain for a certain period of time, it means your facet joint is the cause of your pain. Knowing exactly what causes back pain gives your care team the guidance needed to put together the best long-term pain management treatment.
Stellate ganglion injection is another form of diagnostic testing. This injection blocks signals from the sympathetic ganglion. These are cell bodies that carry messages from the spine to neurons outside of the spine.
As with a media branch block, this diagnostic tests looks to see if pain is temporarily relieved by the injection. When a stellate ganglion injection relieves pain, physicians know that the pain is being caused by damage within the sympathetic nerve chain. A peripheral nerve block may be the best long-term pain treatment for patients experiencing this type of back pain.
Electromyography (EMG) tests muscle’s response to neurons. It’s a diagnostic method to find out whether uncomfortable symptoms like numbness or tingling are caused by the nerve supply or irregularities within the muscle. At Deuk Spine Institute, we don’t rely on guesswork. We use precise diagnostic procedures that ensure the best treatment for your unique symptoms.