An arthrogram is a type of x-ray-guided fluoroscopic procedure. This exam helps doctors get more information about your joints than a traditional CT or MRI can provide. In this type of imaging exam, a radiologist introduces contrast materials into the spaces of your joint to capture video of the joint in motion.
Advanced Orthopedic Applications
Arthrograms allow for a diagnostic evaluation that goes beyond the capability of normal x-rays.
This exam is usually followed by an MRI or CT scan to gather additional information about the joint. Doctors typically use arthrograms to diagnose orthopaedic issues with the elbow, shoulder, wrist, knee, hip or ankle.
Learn More About Arthrograms
How to Prepare for an Arthrogram Scan
No preparation is necessary. If you are on prescription medication, you should continue taking as directed with a small glass of water. Following the exam, you may resume your normal diet and activities, although it is recommended that you avoid rigorous physical activity for 24 hours.
Risks of Arthrograms
Overall, arthrograms are mostly risk free and involve very little discomfort. The contrast material used during the test does carry a slight risk, and patients may experience some side effects after its use. You will be given a consent form to sign which will describe all the potential side effects, and your radiologist can answer any questions you might have.
The most common side effect is a slight burning sensation from the anesthetic and a hot tingling feeling in the joint after the contrast is injected. Side effects usually subside a day or two after your procedure and you may experience pain or soreness using the joint during this time.
What to Expect at Your Exam
- Your exam could be followed by either a CT or MRI scan. This depends on your physician’s request.
- You should wear comfortable clothing with easy access to the joint being examined. You may be asked to change clothes and wear a gown for your exam. If you wear loose clothing with no metal objects, however, you may be able to stay in your clothes.
- First, the technologist will take preliminary X-rays. Then your radiologist will insert a small needle into the joint. Anesthetic medicine will make the procedure relatively painless.
- After the contrast material is in the joint, you will be instructed to exercise the joint. At this point, digital X-rays are taken.
- This exam usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
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What to Bring to Your Appointment
For a stress-free exam day, patients are encouraged to complete all registration paperwork in advance and upload a copy of their insurance card and personal ID online. If this information is provided prior to the appointment, there is no need to bring it with you on exam day. Here’s a quick list of important things you should bring to your appointment:
*If you did not upload this online in advance of your appointment.
Driver’s license or personal ID (if you did not upload this online in advance of your appointment)