What Is Arthrography?


Joint pain and stiffness are common symptoms that can have significant impacts on every area of your life. Often occurring as the result of age, overuse, or accidental injuries, problems within the joints and surrounding tissues are often to blame and are difficult for doctors to pinpoint through a medical exam. Arthrography is a test that can help identify the underlying medical issue. At Intermountain Medical Imaging, our board certified, ACR accredited radiologists offer arthrography as one of several advanced diagnostic testing procedures that can put you on the right path to obtaining proper treatment.

When Arthrography Is Needed

According to reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 30 percent of all adults report suffering some type of joint pain. The most common places for discomfort and swelling to occur are in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, or ankles. The limited mobility you suffer as a result can keep you from performing certain tasks on your job and from enjoying hobbies with family or friends. It can also keep you from getting the proper sleep and daily exercise you need to maintain good overall general health.

Arthrography is a type of advanced medical imaging that can help doctors identify and treat the underlying cause of your joint issues. It is used in combination with other procedures offered at IMI, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans. Through the process of performing an arthrogram, a contrast material is injected into the joint. This allows us to view and obtain clear, detailed images of the surrounding joint tissues and structures, which your doctor will then use in making a diagnosis and in recommending the appropriate treatments.

What Will Happen During My Arthrogram?

An arthrogram is performed as an outpatient procedure. Once your medical history and any images taken through x-rays or another testing in the past have been reviewed, the process typically involves the following steps:

  • You will be instructed to remove clothing or jewelry near the joint;
  • You will receive a local anesthetic to alleviate any discomfort you might experience during the procedure;
  • Once the area is numb, a thin needle will be used to inject contrast material into the joint;
  • Once this material has had time to move throughout the area, our radiologist will then move the joint in different positions in order to view the various joint structures and tissues;
  • Pillows and padded cushions provide needed support to the joint area during this time to prevent discomfort;
  • X-rays, MRI testing, or CT scans may be used to obtain a variety of detailed images.

The procedure itself is painless, but you may experience some bruising and soreness in the immediate aftermath. This should last no more than 48 hours. Over-the-counter medicines may be used to combat pain and inflammation during this time while ice packs will help relieve any swelling you do experience. If an arthrogram was performed in an area such as your knee, elbow, or wrist, bandages might be used to wrap and support the joint temporarily.

Arthrography At IMI

While the arthrogram itself is likely to take only 15 minutes, reviewing your medical history and obtaining the images needed will require additional time. You should allow two hours total for your office visit and make sure you have someone to drive you home after the procedure is finished. Also, plan to take it somewhat easy for a day or so after that and contact your doctor to schedule a follow-up visit to review the results.

Other than going over your medical history and disclosing any medications you are taking, there is little you need to do to prepare for an arthrography. While arthrography is offered through hospitals, patients typically prefer the comfort and convenience of IMI for this and other types of diagnostic testing. As the area’s top outpatient radiology imaging center, we help you avoid the high costs of going to the hospital, along with the complicated administrative procedures, lengthy wait times, general discomfort, and health risks that go along with it.

Contact Us Today For Help

At Intermountain Medical Imaging, your comfort and safety are our top priority. Our highly skilled and experienced board-certified radiologists utilize the latest technology and most advanced testing procedures to monitor and evaluate joint problems and other health conditions. To find out more about the services we offer and how we can help you, contact Intermountain Medical Imaging and request an appointment in one of our offices throughout the Boise area today.

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