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What is Arthrogram

An arthrogram is a term used for a medical test wherein images of the joints under examination can be obtained for improved visibility. This test includes injection of contrast materials, such as

air, water and dye individually or in combination. Arthrography may be of direct type, wherein injection of contrast material is carried out directly into the joint or of indirect type, where injection of contrast material is done into the bloodstream.

During this test, X-rays are mainly used for getting improved images of joints. CT (computerized tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or fluoroscopy can also be used for the same purpose in some cases.

When it is performed?/ Need of an arthrogram

An arthrogram is normally carried out in cases where an unexplained pain, loss of movement or discomfort is observed in the joints. In simple words, an arthrogram is useful in finding out underlying cause of joint problems. Even though arthrography is used for detection of problems in various types of body joints, it is carried our more commonly for problems linked with hip, shoulder, wrist, elbow and ankle joints. For problems associated with ligaments, cartilage, joint capsules and tendons, an arthrogram can be obtained. It also helps in examining loose bodies, prosthetic joints, joint dislocations, etc.

Prior to Arthrography (Pre-procedure)

  • The procedure of arthrography is generally explained to the patients for clarifying issues if any.

  • A healthcare provider will ask the patients undergoing arthrography to sign a consent form for giving the permission for the procedure.

  • No particular diet and activity restrictions are suggested prior to arthrography.

  • Patient medication and allergy history needs to be informed to the physician so as to avoid further complications.

  • Female patients who are pregnant or planning to have a child need to inform about it to the physician for avoiding complications.

  • Patients need to keep the valuables, such as jewelry and watches at home prior to the examination process.

  • Anything that can cause trouble in the arthrography procedure, needs to be kept away.

During arthrography (Procedure of Arthrography)/Collection of arthrogram

  • At the start of an arthrography procedure, a patient needs to be positioned on the table for examination.

  • Area of the skin of the joint under examination will be sterilized prior to the examination.

  • A local anesthetic will be given to the patient prior to the injection of contrast material.

  • X-rays of the joint under examination will be collected before and after injection of contrast material into the joints or bloodstream.

  • With the help of a long and thin needle, a contrast material will be injected into the joints under examination. For guiding the needle insertion into the joints, an ultrasound imaging technique may be used. Since the needle is used for insertion into the joints, pressure can be felt by the patients. In case of hurt, patients need to inform the healthcare provider so that the dose of an anesthetic can be adjusted accordingly.

  • After the injection, patients will be advised to move the joint for even distribution of contrast material in the joint. Materials, such as sandbags and pillows can be used for positioning the joint while collecting the X-rays. After the collection of an arthrogram, a CT scan or MRI can be carried out.

Cost of an arthrogram

Based on the type of healthcare and health insurance, cost of an arthrogram may vary.

(e.g. MRI Arthrogram with contrast

Risks associated with an arthrogram

Even though an arthrogram can be useful for diagnosing an underlying cause behind joint troubles, there can be some risks associated with it. These risks are listed below.

  • Bleeding and infection at the site of needle insertion after injection of contrast material.

  • Allergic reaction or rashes due to contrast materials especially in case of indirect arthrography.

For patients with joint infections or an active arthritis, an arthrography is not advised. For women who are pregnant or planning for a baby need to give an idea about it to the healthcare provider prior to the arthrography procedure. This is very essential, as radiation exposure during the pregnancy may cause birth defects of various kinds. In cases where it is mandatory to go for an arthrography, special precautions need to be taken for prevention of fetus by lowering the exposure of radiations.

Post arthrography

Mild swelling can be observed in or around the joints after an arthrography procedure. Patients need to inform the healthcare provider if excess pain, discomfort or any unusual symptoms are experienced. In general, pain relief medicines along with joint exercise are recommended by the healthcare providers. Some discomfort such as cracking noises or pain can be observed in patients after undergoing an arthrography procedure which may get reduced after some days.
About Author siya nathan :

Get the X-ray cost in india here- Siya is interested in all aspects of the life. Once a healthcare professional currently a writer!! Siya love cooking, dancing, reading, writing, travelling.

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Article Added on Monday, June 19, 2017
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