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Arthrogram

Tell your health care provider 

Be sure to tell your health care provider if:

  • You are or may be pregnant

  • You have any allergies

  • You have any bleeding problems or take blood thinners or other medicines, including aspirin

An arthrogram is an imaging study used to assess your joint problem. Contrast fluid is injected into the joint being studied. Then, X-ray, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to create images.

Man lying on table under x-ray machine. Healthcare provider wearing led vest is looking at monitor and injecting fluid into man's shoulder.
X-rays are used during an arthrogram to create images of your joint.

How do I get ready for an arthrogram? 

  • Arrange for someone to drive you home.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.

What happens during the arthrogram?

  • X-rays of your joint are taken first.

  • The skin around the joint is cleaned and then covered with drapes.

  • The area around your joint is usually numbed with alocal anesthetic.

  • The area around your joint is numbed.

  • The radiologist inserts a needle into the joint, using fluoroscopic or ultrasound guidance. A sample of joint fluid may be removed. 

  • Contrast fluid is injected into your joint to improve the images.

  • X-rays are again taken.

  • The doctor will move your joint. You will also be asked to exercise your joint.

  • Additional X-rays are taken after you exercise.

  • If you need a CT or MRI test, it will follow the X-rays.

What happens after an arthrogram? 

  • Drink extra water or other clear fluids for 24 hours.

  • Vigorous exercise is not recommended for 24 hours after the arthrogram.

  • You may have swelling and discomfort in the involved joint after the procedure. You may apply ice to the joint or use an over-the-counter pain reliever. 

  • Make a follow-up appointment to get your results.

What are the risks of arthrogram?

  • This procedure uses medcal X-ray radiation. The amount of X-ray exposure is felt to be low and safe.

  • There is a small risk of pain, bleeding, or infection at the injection site.

When should I call my health care provider?

Contact your doctor right away if:

  • You have pain or swelling that doesn’t improve by 2 days after your test

  • You have a fever (1°F above your normal temperature) lasting 24 to 48 hours

  • Or, whatever your health care provider told you to report based on your medical condition

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Qureshi, Javed, MD
Last Review Date: 6/19/2015
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