Arthrogram

Download/print the Arthrogram patient information sheet

What is an arthrogram?

An arthrogram is performed to evaluate the structure and function of extremity joints, such as the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee or ankle. The procedure can help determine the need for treatment, including surgery or joint replacement.

How should I prepare for my procedure?
  • If you have an active infection and are taking antibiotics, the medication course must be complete prior to the procedure.
  • Wear comfortable clothes without metal fasteners, including zippers, buttons and snaps.
  • Inform us if you are or may be pregnant, or have allergies to medications or x-ray dye (contrast).
  • Arrive 15 minutes early to complete registration.
  • Bring your insurance card and a valid photo ID.
How long will my procedure take?

An arthrogram will take approximately 30 minutes. In most cases, an MRI (or occasionally a CT scan) will be performed after the injection to obtain more information about the structure of the joint; this takes about 30 minutes.

What happens during my procedure?

Depending on the area to be injected, you will be positioned on your stomach or back on an x-ray table. The fluoroscopy camera will be positioned above you. The area to be injected will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution. Local anesthetic will be applied to numb the area.

A small needle will be placed in the joint and contrast material will be injected to confirm that the needle is in the correct location. Anesthetic or steroid preparation may also be injected, depending on the specific procedure ordered by your healthcare provider.

In some cases, a CT or MR scan will be performed after the arthrogram to obtain more information about the structure of the joint. This will take another 30-45 minutes.

What happens after my procedure?

A summary of the procedure will be sent to your healthcare provider who will then contact you to discuss the results.

Unless directed otherwise, you may resume your normal diet and prescribed medications. Rest for the remainder of the day and avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities.

You may feel soreness at the needle insertion site for up to 24 hours. You can use an ice pack for up to 15 minutes per hour to relieve any discomfort.

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