(Joint X-ray, Arthrogram)
Arthrography is a type of X-ray used to examine a joint, such as the knee or hip, when standard X-rays are not adequate. A series of X-rays is taken with the joint in various positions after contrast dye is placed in the joint. An arthrogram may use fluoroscopy, CT, or MR imaging to better visualize the joint.
While arthrography is most commonly used to examine the knee and shoulder joints, it may also be used to examine other joints, such as the wrist, ankle, hip, or elbow.
The shoulder is made up of several components, including the following:
The knee is a vulnerable joint that bears a great deal of stress from everyday activities, such as lifting and kneeling, and from high-impact activities, such as jogging and aerobics.
The following parts form the knee:
Each bone end is covered with a layer of cartilage that absorbs shock and protects the knee. Basically, the knee is two long leg bones held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
There are two groups of muscles involved in the knee, including the quadriceps muscles (located on the front of the thighs), which straighten the legs, and the hamstring muscles (located on the back of the thighs), which bend the leg at the knee.
Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bone to bone. Some ligaments of the knee provide stability and protection of the joints, while other ligaments limit forward and backward movement of the tibia (shin bone).
Arthrography may be performed on a joint when there has been persistent and unexplained pain, discomfort, and/or dysfunction in the joint. Other reasons to perform arthrography may include, but are not limited to, the following:
There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend arthrography.
You may want to ask your doctor about the amount of radiation used during the procedure and the risks related to your particular situation. It is a good idea to keep a record of your past history of radiation exposure, such as previous scans and other types of X-rays, so that you can inform your doctor. Risks associated with radiation exposure may be related to the cumulative number of X-ray examinations and/or treatments over a long period of time.
Patients who are allergic to or sensitive to medications, contrast dyes, local anesthesia, iodine, or latex should notify their doctor.
Some potential risks of arthrography include, but are not limited to, the following:
Arthrography is not recommended for persons with active arthritis or with joint infections.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your doctor. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects. If it is necessary for you to have an arthrography examination, special precautions will be made to minimize the radiation exposure to the fetus.
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to the procedure.
Arthrography may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in the hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices.
Generally, arthrography follows this process:
While the arthrography procedure itself causes no pain, having to hold the joint still in certain position for the procedure might cause some discomfort or pain, particularly in the case of a recent injury or invasive procedure such as surgery. The technologist will use all possible comfort measures and complete the procedure as quickly as possible to minimize any discomfort or pain.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions regarding movement of the joint, pain medication, care of the affected joint, symptoms to watch for, and any activity restrictions.
You may be asked to rest the joint for several hours after the procedure.
Some mild swelling may be noted in or around the joint. Your doctor may suggest that you apply ice to the joint if swelling occurs. If swelling continues or increases after a day or two, you should notify your doctor.
Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your doctor. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.
After a knee arthrogram, the affected knee may be wrapped with an elastic bandage for several days. You will be shown how to apply the bandage and remove it for bathing and dressing.
You may notice some clicking or cracking noises with movement of the joint for a few days after the procedure. This is normal, and should resolve within a few days.
Notify your doctor to report any of the following:
You may resume your normal diet unless your doctor advises you differently.
Your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. Please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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