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Arthrogram

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.

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

How do I get ready for an arthrogram? 

  • Arrange for someone to drive you home.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.

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.

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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