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Arthrogram (Joint X-Ray)

How To Prepare

Tell your doctor before your arthrogram if you:

  • Are or might be pregnant.
  • Are allergic to any type of contrast material.
  • Are allergic to iodine. The dye used for an arthrogram may contain iodine.
  • Are allergic to any medicines, including anesthetics.
  • Have ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from any substance, such as a bee sting or eating shellfish.
  • Have asthma.
  • Have bleeding problems or are taking blood-thinning medicines.
  • Have arthritis that is bothering you at the time of your test.
  • Have a known infection in or around your joint. The dye may make your infection worse.
  • Have diabetes or take metformin (Glucophage) for your diabetes.

You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

An arthrogram is usually done by a doctor who specializes in interpreting X-rays (radiologist).

You will be asked to remove any jewelry or metal objects from the joint area. You will then sit or lie down with your joint under an X-ray viewer (fluoroscope) that is hooked to a video screen that can show X-ray pictures. The skin over your joint is cleaned with a special soap and draped with sterile towels. A local anesthetic is used to numb the skin and tissues over the joint.

A needle is put into your joint area. Joint fluid may be removed so that more contrast material (such as dye or air) can be put into the joint. A sample of joint fluid may be sent to a lab to be looked at under a microscope. The fluoroscope shows that the needle is placed correctly in your joint. The dye or air is then put through the needle into your joint. The joint may be injected with both dye and air (double-contrast arthrogram). The needle is then removed.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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