An arthrogram injection is an injection of contrast dye into a joint to allow better visualisation of internal joint structures during the CT examination. The study will be reported by a radiologist and the results sent to your doctor.
The joint may be injected using x-ray or ultrasound. First, the skin on the joint affected will be cleaned with antiseptic. The radiologist inserts a fine needle into the joint that your doctor has asked us to inject using an aseptic technique (strict infection control practices). We use x-ray or ultrasound to guide the placement of the needle safely and accurately into the correct position.
X-ray contrast is usually injected into the joint to confirm that the needle is in the correct location.
For a CT arthrogram, a larger volume of x-ray contrast is injected, and then you will be transferred to the CT machine.
You may experience a feeling of fullness and/or tightness as the joint is distended with fluid, but the procedure is usually well tolerated.
How do I prepare for an arthrogram?
Before the CT arthrogram, you may be asked to change into an examination gown for your comfort, and to ensure clothing does not affect the images. You may also be asked to remove jewellery, eye-glasses and any metal objects that might interfere with the imaging.
You may eat and drink as normal before and after the procedure. If you are on any regular medication or have diabetes and are on insulin, take your usual medicines and diet.
Please inform us if you are on medication to thin your blood (e.g. Warfarin, Aspirin or Clopidogrel), have an iodine allergy, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Any discomfort in the joint should settle within 24 hours as the contrast is absorbed.
Do not do any strenuous activity for 48 hours after the arthrogram.
Occasionally there may be soreness or bruising at the site of the injection. If required, an analgesic such as paracetamol (Panadol) should be sufficient. An ice-pack may also provide some relief.
Infection is uncommon, but it is a serious side effect. If you notice any fever or redness, swelling, or increased pain at the injection site after the first two days, notify your referring doctor or immediately call the clinic where the injection was performed.
Risks / Side Effects
Arthrogram injections are generally safe.
Potential risks include infection within the soft tissues or joint which is an uncommon but serious side effect.
If x-ray contrast is administered, there is a small risk of an allergic reaction. A mild allergic reaction occurs in 1/1000 injections and includes a rash, hives or sneezing. More severe reactions such as difficulty breathing are less common. Severe life-threatening reactions are extremely rare (1 in 170,000).
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