Diagnostic Disc Stimulation
Also known as discography, this refers to a diagnostic procedure that aims to identify discogenic pain, or pain that is related to the disc itself, and not from, for instance, the spinal nerves that lie in close proximity. For this procedure, a needle is introduced into the disc and a small amount of contrast dye is injected. Depending on the appearance of the disc and response of the patient, specific discs can be identified or eliminated as being pain generators. This procedure is often done at a surgeon’s request if he or she is contemplating which levels to fuse during surgery. It can also be used as a prelude for certain disc interventions, such as IDET, or biacuplasty. Results in this arena have been mixed, however. In the future, biologics, such as stem cells, may be utilized in an effort to reconstitute the discs. Research is ongoing.