What is an arthrogram?

An arthrogram is a fluoroscopic X-ray study ("live" dynamic imaging that is viewed on a monitor in real time) in which a radiologist injects a contrast media into a joint of the body and acquires images of the joint. It is usually performed on shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip and knee joints. Patients are often referred to CT or MRI for additional imaging after the initial arthrogram is performed.

How do I prepare for the exam?

There are no special instructions for this exam.  Clothing should be worn that allows for easy access to the joint in question. You may be asked to change your clothes for the exam.

What will happen during the exam?

The radiologist will ask for a brief medical history that pertains to the study. You will lay on a special X-ray table that allows for fluoroscopic imaging. The radiologist will clean the area of the joint with an antiseptic solution, and under fluoroscopic guidance, insert a small needle into the joint cavity. 

After ensuring proper placement of the needle, the radiologist will inject a small amount of contrast media that will allow better visualization of the joint under X-ray. The needle will be removed and you may be asked to exercise the joint. Fluoroscopic X-ray images will be acquired.  For most cases, patients are sent to CT or MRI for additional imaging.

How long will the procedure take?

The entire procedure takes approximately 45 minutes. Additional time is necessary if the patient is referred to CT or MRI after the arthrogram exam.


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