Common Medical Tests
A discogram is a procedure during which dye is injected into a person's cervical or lumbar discs. A discogram can be a very accurate way to determine the full extent a person's injury. Normally, healthy lumbar cervical discs will hold a small amount of diet as injected. This is because a normal, healthy disc is fully enclosed and encapsulated. If a lumbar or cervical disc has been injured, very often this will result in a tear to the disk. When a small amount of dye is injected into the disk it will immediately leak out during the test indicating that the disk as a whole or tear it. A discogram is often followed by a CT scan which will take images of the disk in the dye in order to visualize that the dye has leaked outside the disk.
The purpose of the test is to determine if the injected dye leaks out or goes beyond the subject disk.
A myelogram is very similar to a discogram in that a dye is injected around the injured lumbar or cervical area. A CT scan is then performed to view the area and the dye provides an enhanced image to any damage to the area.
EMG/Nerve Conduction Study (NCV)
Typically, an EMG is given at the same time as a nerve conduction study.
An electromyelogram (EMG) is a test that is used to record the electrical activity of muscles. When muscles are active, they produce an electrical current. The most common type of nerve conduction study is known as a Nerve Conduction Velocity test. These tests are used to diagnose nerve injuries and muscle damage. Very often they will be given to individuals who have suffered low back injuries or neck injuries to diagnose nerve damage which may be occurring into the person's upper or lower extremities (arms or legs). The NCV will measure how quickly and completely a person's arm or leg nerve transfers "information", or how quickly and completely they respond. If nerve damage has occurred very often the response will be delayed or incomplete.
It is very important to note that most EMG/NCV tests are not 100% accurate. Most physicians will admit that the tests have at least a 10% margin of error. Very often individuals with nerve damage will have normal EMG/NCV tests even though they are experiencing nerve damage.
Typically, orthopedics will perform arthroscopic surgery on individuals neck and shoulder areas. (Images Courtesy of North County Graphics)
Although arthroscopic surgery is considered a "surgical" procedure, very often it is used to diagnose injuries which may not be visible with other noninvasive testing. The purpose of this surgery is to not only to repair any damage which may be seen, but to also actually identify and visualize damage which may not have appeared on prior MRI and CT testing.
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