Saccoradiculography: Useful for the diagnosis of your pain?


Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Ibtissama Boukas, physician specializing in family medicine

Saccoradiculography is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses a contrast product to better identify the spine. Although less used nowadays, it can be used before an x-ray or a scan is taken.

This article provides an update on this technique, mentioning the procedure, indications, complications and other useful information to know.


To give a simple definition of saccoradiculography, it is a special imaging technique using reactive products. Indeed, this method consists in introducing (or more precisely injecting) an iodinated contrast product into the dural bag.

As a reminder, the dural sac is the sac that contains the cerebrospinal fluid and the nerve roots. The iodinated contrast product is injected just before the classic X-rays are performed.

In addition, this method allows doctors and specialists to make a study of the lumbar nerve roots. For example, we are looking for possible conflicts of the type radiculalgia at their level.

It should also be known that this method is no longer popular since the MRI and the Scanner have appeared. However, this technique can be really useful in a few basic situations such as finding the cause of post-operative pain, or even pain that occurs when you are standing.

Saccoradiculography is often done without hospitalization, and with an X-ray or CT scan. All this so that the technique is more precise, and to have an optimal puncture. Along with this method; in some cases, the patient may receive an injection of corticosteroids into the epidural space or into the dural sac to treat pain.

Intervention: Conduct of the examination

Let's start by talking about what you need to do before the procedure. Above all, you must eat something solid, but in return, you must not eat too much. It is also important to have with you the elements of the medical records to better equip the radiologist, such as:

  • order
  • Doctor's letter (if there is one)
  • the results of lab or other examinations
  • etc.

During the interview part, you must answer very precisely the questions that you are asked about your state of health and the treatments you are already following. Moreover, we recommend that you make a short list of the medications you take in advance. The reason for this is that when you take certain types of medications such as blood thinners or antiplatelet drugs, it may need to be stopped.

It is also important that you understand that the radiologist will need to know if you have already had surgery on the lumbar, cervical spine or if you have benefited from a spinal infiltration. In addition, he must be informed of the fact that you are pregnant, have blood diseases or allergies etc. To help you make your short list, here are some examples of frequently asked questions:

  • Are you sensitive to bleeding or do you bleed easily?
  • Are you the type of person to have sudden bleeding or do you have a disease that affects your blood? Are you taking any medicine for blood clotting.
  • Do you often fight headaches by taking only aspirin?
  • Are you prone to allergies? Do you have low tolerance to certain medications or products that are put on the skin? By the way, do you have asthma?
  • Can't stand an X-ray exam? Are you anxious or depressed or uneasy and restless before an x-ray exam?
  • Have you recently had dental work or had any infections like fever or sore throat?
  • Do you suffer from a disease that affects the eye such as glaucoma?
  • Do you suffer from a disease that affects the prostate?
  • Are you expecting a child? Are you breastfeeding?

These are just examples of questions, but we advise you to always point out to your interlocutor the things that seem important to you, especially if you are not asked the questions you expect.

The course of the saccoradiculography is simple: If your doctor does not say otherwise, you will be seen the same day of the intervention in the radiology department for the outpatient intervention. Since the intervention generally lasts more than 2 hours, we advise you to always go to the toilet before the infiltration of the contrast product. The reason for this is not simply a concern for efficiency but above all you will have more comfort during the procedure.

When the product is injected, the instructions of the doctors and the instructions of the radiology technician must be strictly followed. Indeed, your cooperation is essential since it will facilitate the puncture gesture and minimize the pain and complications that could arise. A needle is placed just at the level of the dural sac with the control of a radiology screen and the product is injected. If necessary, corticosteroids will also be injected.

After that, you have to stand up for the x-ray to be done. In most cases, a CT scan is done following the x-ray. If you have headaches after the imaging, you will be advised to lie down for a while.


Like every procedure performed on the human body, saccoradiculography is not without complications. Indeed, you may have some symptoms of complications. Even if it is very rare that before the operation or during there are complications, some people will have a strong allergy to the iodine product. If this happens, the doctor and the x-ray technician will stop the process. It is for this reason that it is essential to tell the doctors your general state of health before this method.

In terms of complication, sometimes you have a feeling of fainting. It's not serious, but don't forget to tell your doctor. You should know that it is not because of the iodized product, because there is no risk involved. But sometimes it can be caused by the needle making the puncture in your spinal canal.

After the procedure, you may have more or less severe headaches. But today, this only happens a few times, because the needles used are finer. In addition, you must report it to your attending physician so that you can have adequate treatment to eliminate or reduce the pain.

Also, you may have a fever or pain that will make you think of an infection. However, this is a really rare case, because during the intervention, all the precautions taken allow this to be avoided. In addition, to dispel your doubts, always take advice and advice from your doctor.

After the exam

After your exam, you will need to return to your room or home. Then, you must lie down for 24 hours with your head in an elevated position. And you have to drink liters of water to eliminate the iodized product.

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