What is an Arthrogram?
An arthrogram is an imaging examination of a joint after contrast material has been injected into it. The injection helps outline the internal soft tissue structures within the joint on X-ray, CT, and/or MRI images. This procedure is used to evaluate persistent or unexplained joint pain or discomfort, swelling, or abnormal movement of a joint. The images obtained from an arthrogram can help your doctor decide between different treatment options, including surgery.
Conventional arthrography uses a special form of X-ray called fluoroscopy and an iodine-containing contrast material that is injected directly into the joint. Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see the bones and joints on “real-time” X-ray images.
CT arthrography uses a CT scan after injection of the same type of contrast material as conventional arthrography. CT uses X-ray pictures taken from multiple different angles to create cross-sectional images that appear as “slices” of the bones and joints.
MR arthrography uses an MRI scan after injection of a different type of contrast material, called Gadolinium, into the joint. As in conventional and CT arthrography, the contrast material outlines the structures within the joint, allowing them to be evaluated by the radiologist on the cross-sectional MRI images. MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bones, and other internal body structures. Unlike other imaging techniques that use X-rays, MRI does not expose patients to the potentially harmful effects of radiation.
MRI is not for everyone though, you will not be able to have an MRI examination if you have any of the following:
- Most pacemakers
- Certain brain aneurysm clips
- Cochlear implants
- Metallic fragments in an eye
- Implanted spinal cord stimulator
- Certain other metal-containing implants
MRI contrast is an organically bound gadolinium-based material that is typically safe with no side effects, though there is always the potential for allergic reaction. Please let us know if:
- You are pregnant or think you might be
- You are breastfeeding
- You have anemia or any diseases that affect red blood cells
- You have asthma or other allergic respiratory disorders
- You have kidney (renal) disease
- You have a history of injury during military service
- You have a history of working with metal