Several forms of diagnostic imaging are performed in our Humble and Houston radiology facilities. When closer observation of a joint is necessary, arthrography may be the most appropriate type of exam.
What is an Arthrogram?
An arthrogram is a method of medical imaging in which a joint is observed through live X-Ray “Flouroscopy”. Imaging involves contrast media that facilitates the examination of structures that may not be accurately portrayed on a standard x-ray.
Why is Arthrography performed?
Arthrograms help physicians understand the underlying cause of joint pain. Some of the common uses of an Arthrogram include:
- Identify disease, deterioration, or tears in cartilage, ligaments, bones, or the capsule of a joint.
- Observe the rotator cuff in the shoulder for damage such as a tear.
- Evaluation for fluid-filled cysts or other abnormal growths.
- Confirmation of proper needle placement for joint fluid analysis, or prior to injection therapy for joint pain.
What areas may be observed using Arthrography?
An arthrogram may observe the joint structure of the:
How is Arthrography performed?
Contrast material is used for Arthrograms in order to project a clear visual image of the joint structure in real time.
To complete the Arthrogram:
- The patient sits or lies down on an exam table.
- Skin is cleaned and may be draped with a sterile cloth.
- Local anesthetic is administered to numb the joint area.
- Dye is introduced into the joint structure.
- The patient may be asked to move the joint in order to disperse contrast material.
- The joint should be held very still while imaging is ongoing.
- In some cases, the patient may be asked to move through the full range of motion for extensive visualization of the joint.
- Once the arthrogram is complete, the patient will have an MRI or CT performed immediately afterward.
What does it feel like to have an Arthrogram?
We do everything that we can to make imaging a comfortable experience for each patient.
During an Arthrogram, a patient may feel a slight sting when the anesthetic is injected just beneath the skin.
When contrast material enters the joint, a sensation of fullness, discomfort, tingling, or pressure may occur. Some patients also notice a slight salty or metallic taste for a few moments after contrast media is administered.
It is necessary to hold very still during parts of the arthrography exam. This is usually just a few seconds to a few minutes at a time. The exam may take 10-30 minutes.
What happens after an Arthrogram?
Some patients experience mild joint tenderness, discomfort, or swelling after an arthrogram. The joint may also make cracking or clicking sounds during the first 24 hours after the exam. Ice and non-prescription pain medication are typically sufficient to improve comfort. The joint should be rested for the first 12 hours after the arthrogram. After that, more strenuous physical activity can be slowly resumed over 1 to 2 days. If tenderness or swelling continue for more than a day, the patient should contact their physician. In some instances, patients may experience slight nausea or a mild headache as a result of contrast material.
Images obtained during the arthrogram are reviewed by one of our radiologists. A full report is prepared and forwarded to the referring physician within a few days.
GO Imaging facilities are fully accredited by the American College of Radiology. Our board-certified radiologists and ARRT-certified radiology technologists offer exemplary service to patients and their referring physicians.