This is an injection of contrast dye or a radio-active tracer into a joint to allow better visualisation of internal joint structures during an X-Ray, CT, MRI or Nuclear Medicine examination.
The joint may be injected in X-ray or ultrasound and you will usually lie down. The skin 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. 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.
For Nuclear Medicine studies, you will be transferred to the Nuclear Medicine section for imaging once the radio-tracer has been injected.
For an MRI arthrogram another contrast (gadolinium) is also injected to distend the joint and you are then moved to the MRI machine for your scan.
You may experience a feeling of fullness and /or tightness as the joint is distended with fluid, but the procedure is usually well tolerated
Risks / Side Effects
Arthrogram injections are generally very safe.
Potential risks include infection within the soft tissues or joint.
If X-ray contrast is administered there is a small risk of allergic reaction. This includes flushing, hives and difficulty breathing. Severe reactions are rare and life-threatening reaction extremely rare (1 in 170,000).
Before your Scan
No specific preparation is required and you may eat and drink before and after the procedure. If you are on any special drugs 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 (eg. 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.
No strenuous activity for 48 hours after the Arthrogram.
Occasionally there may be soreness or bruising at the site of the injection.
- If required, a simple analgesic such as paracetamol (Panadol) should be sufficient.
- An ice pack may also provide some relief.
Infection is a potential side effect – If you notice any fever or redness, swelling, or increased pain at the injection site after the first 2 days, notify your referring doctor or call the clinic where the injection was performed immediately.