The neck area (cervical) of your spine is made up of seven bones stacked on top of each other. The cervical discs are found in between each vertebra and act as a cushion to help the neck move and bend without affecting the surrounding nerves. If a cervical disc becomes diseased, the vertebrae might lose support and impact a nerve along the spine, thus resulting in pain and discomfort. During our cervical disc replacement procedure, we remove the diseased disc and replace it with an artificial disc to add cushion between the vertebrae and stabilize the spine.
Contrast is used to verify epidural location and to indicate the distribution of injectate. Some physicians use contrast as a volume expander while others prefer saline for this use. The contrast is typically nonionic and lowosmolar. In patients with contrast allergies gadolinium can be safely used in most lumbar procedures. 30,31,52,53 If using gadolinium, the amount should be just enough to document epidural injection. Gadolinium should not be used as a substitute for volume expander. The typical amount of contrast or contrastsaline mixture used for either cervical or lumbar interlaminar epidurography is 4 cc to 5 cc (less in nerve blocks; see below). A smaller amount will not provide sufficient contrast for an epidurogram to evaluate for adhesions or distribution of injectate. For coding purposes, an epidurogram is considered to have been performed when approximately 4 cc to 5 cc of contrast is injected regardless of the route (transforaminal or interlaminar). The report, CPT code, and amount billed must be adjusted if an epidurogram is not performed. The amount of contrast injected may be reduced in spinal stenosis. Many patients will feel pressure or leg cramping from almost any volume, no matter how small. Patients undergoing first-time injections may confuse this with pain. Careful questioning and reassurance that pressure is normal will be adequate in most cases. The injectate volume should be reduced if significant pain is experienced.