Arthrogram With MRI or CT
What is an arthrogram?
An arthrogram is an X-ray exam of a joint. The doctor injects a contrast into the joint.
Why is it done?
Your doctor ordered an arthrogram to get a clearer picture of what is happening to the cartilage in your joint. Unlike bone, cartilage does not show up well on a regular X-ray. MRI, with an injection of a contrast, can show cartilage tears in a joint better. Most often, arthrograms are done on the knee and hip joints. They may also be done on shoulders, elbows and wrists.
How is it done?
Before you have this test, please tell your doctor if you are claustrophobic, allergic to iodine or numbing medicines. If you are claustrophobic, you can be given medicines to help you get through the MRI scan.
You will be taken into the arthrogram room and asked to lie on an X-ray table. The technologist or the doctor will ask you if you have any allergies to contrasts, numbing drugs, or iodine. You will be asked to sign a permission form to do the procedure. The doctor will inject a numbing drug (anesthetic) into the joint that will be studied. This may burn for a few seconds. A fluoroscopy (real-time X-ray) will be used as the doctor puts a needle into the joint. Contrast will be injected into the joint. After the contrast has been injected, you will be asked to move the joint so the contrast will move throughout the joint.
You will be taken to the MRI scanner (see Health Facts for You #4419, A Patient’s Guide to MRI). If you cannot have an MRI for some reason, a CT (Computerized Tomography, Health Facts for You #4351) can be done instead. The arthrogram will take about 45 minutes. The MRI part will take about 45 minutes. The entire exam will take about 1½ hours.
What happens after the test?
You may return to your normal routine. You may have mild pain so do not lift anything heavy for the next 24 hours. Your local doctor will talk with you about the results of your test.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 12/01/2009
Copyright © 12/01/2009 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5850
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