An arthrogram 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.
This procedure is available at the following Dr Jones & Partners locations:
- Alice Springs Hospital
- Calvary Adelaide Hospital
- Kurralta Park
- Noarlunga Hospital
- Pt Augusta Hospital
- Pt Lincoln Hospital
- St Andrew’s Hospital
Arthrograms involve two distinct steps; the injection process followed by diagnostic imaging of the joint. The joint may be injected using X-Ray or ultrasound guidance while lying down. The skin will be cleaned with antiseptic to prevent infection. The radiologist inserts a fine needle into the joint that your doctor has asked us to inject using an aseptic technique. The x-ray or ultrasound guides the placement of the needle safely and accurately into the correct position.
A small amount of 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 diagnostic imaging.
For Nuclear Medicine studies, a radio-tracer is injected after the X-ray contrast. You are then transferred to the Nuclear Medicine department for diagnostic imaging of the tracer.
For an MRI arthrogram, MR contrast (gadolinium) is injected to distend the joint. You are then moved to a MRI machine for your diagnostic 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. The tightness will subside in coming days as the dye absorbs into surrounding tissues.
Risks / Side Effects
Arthrogram injections are generally very safe.
Potential risks include bruising. Infection within the soft tissues or joint is possible but not common. See other information in side bar for details.
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. You are free to eat and drink before and after the procedure. If you are on any special medication or have diabetes and are on insulin, take your usual medication 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 an 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 an uncommon, but a serious 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.
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