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Arthrogram (Joint X-Ray)

How It Is Done continued...

You may be asked to move your joint around to help the dye or air spread inside your joint. Pictures from the fluoroscope show if the dye has filled your entire joint. Hold as still as possible while the X-rays are being taken unless your doctor tells you to move your joint through its entire range of motion. The X-rays need to be taken quickly, before the dye spreads to other tissues around your joint.

If you are having a CT scan or MRI after an arthrogram, a small amount of a medicine called epinephrine may be mixed with the dye to stop the dye from spreading into other tissues.

An arthrogram usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes.

After the arthrogram, rest your joint for about 12 hours. Do not do any strenuous activity for 1 to 2 days. Use ice for any swelling and use pain medicine for any pain. If a bandage or wrap is put on your joint following an arthrogram, you will be told how long to use it.

How It Feels

You will feel a prick and sting when the anesthetic is given. You may feel tingling, pressure, pain, or fullness in your joint as the dye is put in.

The X-ray table may feel hard and the room may be cool.

You may have some mild pain, tenderness, and swelling in your joint after the test. Ice packs and nonprescription pain relievers, used as the package directs, may help you feel more comfortable. You may also hear a grating, clicking, or cracking sound when you move your joint. This is normal and goes away in about 24 hours. If you have ongoing pain, tenderness, or swelling of the joint, tell your doctor.

Risks

You can have a few problems from an arthrogram, such as:

  • Joint pain for more than 1 or 2 days.
  • An allergic reaction to the dye.
  • Damage to the structures inside your joint or bleeding in the joint. But this is very rare because the needle that is used is small.
  • Infection in the joint.

There is always a slight risk of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, including the low levels of radiation used for this test. But the risk of damage from the X-rays is usually very low compared with the potential benefits of the test.

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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