Complications of cervical discography: findings in a large series

J Spinal Disord. 1997 Apr;10(2):95-101.


The use of cervical discography remains controversial. Recently in a small patient group, a high complication rate was reported. The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of complications associated with cervical discography. Data from 161 cervical discography procedures, involving 269 disc injections, were recorded. There were four complications; thus the complication rate was 2.48% based on the number of procedures and 1.49% based on the number of disc injections. The complications were two cases of discitis, one postinjection hematoma, and one patient developed significant headache pain after the disc injection. Reports of high complication rates associated with cervical discography and serious outcomes from them should serve as a warning that the procedure does have associated risks, and great care is warranted. However, based on the results of our study, discography is not an inherently unsafe procedure. It can be accomplished with few complications when performed in sterile conditions by those well experienced with cervical disc injections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Discitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Discitis / etiology*
  • Female
  • Headache / etiology
  • Hematoma / etiology
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc / diagnostic imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed