Mercy Regional Health Center
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Arthrogram

What is an arthrogram?
What happens during the exam?
How should I prepare for the procedure?
What should I wear?
What happens after the test?
What are the risks?
When will I know the results?


What is an arthrogram?
An arthrogram is a special x-ray procedure that is performed with a contrast agent — and sometimes air — to visualize the soft tissue component in a joint, as well as look for tears or other injuries.

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What happens during the exam?
You will be lying on your back on an x-ray table. The joint area will be washed with antiseptic solution and local anesthesia (freezing) will be introduced. This will sting momentarily. Another needle will then be introduced into the joint, but you will feel only mild pressure.
 
The radiologist will then inject the contrast agent, and sometimes a small amount of air. The joint will feel puffy. The radiologist will remove the needle and exercise the joint to allow the x-ray dye to spread evenly.
 
Several x-ray images will then be taken in various positions. The procedure is most often followed by an MRI exam of the joint area.

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How should I prepare for the procedure?
You should not eat or drink anything for four hours prior to the exam.
 
If you are or might be pregnant, please inform your physician before the procedure, as the procedure may have to be postponed or cancelled.

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What should I wear?
Most patients are asked to wear a hospital gown. You will also need to remove all jewelry.

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What happens after the test?
The joint may feel swollen for a few hours due to the x-ray dye or air injected. The air will be absorbed in a few hours, and the contrast agent will be absorbed into the blood, collected by your kidneys and excreted with your urine. The contrast agent will not affect the color of your urine.
 
It is important that you do not over-exert the joint for a few hours, until the freezing has worn off.

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What are the risks? 
If you develop hives or itching, or experience any difficulty swallowing or breathing, contact your physician or go to the
Emergency Department.

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When will I know the results?
Your physician will receive a written report from the radiologist within a few days. You should obtain the results from your doctor.

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