Conventional arthrography is the x-ray examination of a joint that uses a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and a contrast material containing iodine. Some arthrography examinations also use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
An x-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.
Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. When iodine is injected into the joint space, it coats the inner lining of the joint structures and appears bright white on an arthrogram, allowing the radiologist to assess the anatomy and function of the joint.
MR arthrography involves the injection of a contrast material into the joint, just like in conventional arthrography, except that the contrast material is different. As in conventional arthrography, the contrast material outlines the structures within the joint. This allows them to be evaluated by the radiologist to determine the anatomy of the joint.
MR imaging uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor, printed or copied to CD. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays).
You should tell your technologist about any recent illnesses or other medical conditions, as well as any allergies you might have to medications. Women should always inform SSR staff if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Generally, no special preparation is necessary for an arthrogram. Food and fluid intake do not need to be restricted.
Please wear metal-free clothing to your appointment. Once you arrive, you may be asked to change into a gown before your examination. You may also need to remove jewelry, eyeglasses, and any metal objects that could obscure the images.
The patient will be positioned on the fluoroscopy table and the skin around the joint will be cleansed and injected with a local anesthetic. Using the fluoroscopy camera the radiologist will inject contrast material into the joint. Once the needle has been removed, a series of images will be taken using x-ray or MRI imaging.