Arthrography is a form of medical imaging that is utilized to evaluate and diagnose unexplained pain and other joint conditions. An arthrogram is particularly effective at detecting diseases within cartilage, ligaments and tendons. There are two forms, both indirect and direct, that can potentially be used to perform this procedure.
Frequently Asked Questions About an Arthrogram
What is indirect Arthrography vs. direct Arthrography?
Indirect arthrography uses contrast. It is injected into the bloodstream and the joint eventually will absorb it.
Direct arthrography is the preferred form of an arthrogram. It takes contrast and injects it directly into the joint. This form enlarges the joint, and thus can provide more detailed imaging of smaller internal structures.
How does Arthrography work?
When performing direct arthrography, there are a few different methods that can be used.
Fluoroscopy, a specific form of X-ray, is one of the more conventional methods. It guides and monitors an injection of iodine contrast material into the joints. This contrast fills the entire joint and allows a radiologist to analyze the anatomy and functionality of the joint.
Another method used to perform direct arthrography involves an MRI. MR Arthrography also injects contrast directly into the joint. However, this contrast contains gadolinium, which influences the joint’s local magnetic field and shows on the MR images. Using the magnetic field as well as radiofrequency pulses and a computer, detailed images are generated of soft tissues, bone, organs and other internal structures. These pictures can then be assessed on a monitor that is synced to an image archive (PACS system) or printed and/or copied to CD.
The other type of direct arthrogram that can be performed is a CT arthrogram. CT direct arthrography utilizes the same form of contrast as a standard direct arthrography and can also be supplemented by air to generate a double contrast CT arthrogram. Cross sectional images are processed through a CT by a computer that uses x-rays.
How safe are arthrograms?
An arthrogram is a very safe procedure and complications are unusual. The greatest risk is an infection of the joint, which is caused by organisms from a patient’s skin being transferred via the contrast medium injection into the joint. The risk of infection is not particularly known, but the closest estimate is about 1 in 40,000 people who receive the procedure.
What are the benefits of an arthrogram?
Direct arthrography is particularly successful at being able to detect diseases within ligaments, cartilage, tendons, etc.
If a patient decides to go with an x-ray arthrography, there are usually no side effects no radiation will remain in the body after the examination. If a patient goes with MR arthrography, they will experience a noninvasive technique which does not involve ionizing radiation. The contrast material that is used in this form of arthrogram poses a lesser risk of an allergic reaction than iodine-based contrast used in standard x-rays and CT scans.
What should you expect during an arthrogram?
During the procedure, you will feel a slight pinprick and may also experience a brief burning if local anesthesia is used for the numbing of the joint area. Pressure or minor pain when the needle is moved into the joint is also common. Let the radiologist know if you do experience any pain so that additional local anesthetic can be applied to the area.
Alliance MRI is streamlining connections with physicians to reduce opportunity for error and encourage timely service. Our experienced staff offer authorization and scheduling benefits that speed the insurance process and answer any questions that may arise.
If you have individualized needs, please call your local facility and someone will help you immediately.
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Find an Alliance MRI Location for an Affordable Arthrogram in Houston
Please contact Alliance MRI for more information on our arthrogram services and other services listed below in Houston or to find a location closest to you.
- CT scanning
- iStat Equipment to conveniently check blood levels before administering contrast dye.
*Please note that not all equipment is available at all centers; please check your preferred location for details on services.