WHAT IS AN ARTHROGRAM?
An arthrogram is a specialized imaging test used to study joints. During arthrography, interventional radiologists inject a contrast or dye into the joint to examine ligaments and cartilage. Most doctors will suggest an arthrogram if traditional imaging does not show enough detail or if a patient has unexplained joint pain. This study is used to examine the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle.
How to prepare
Arthography is a specialized procedure to examine joints. Because of this, some special preparation is required. Please follow this guide before your arthogram:
- Do not eat or drink for 4 hours before the procedure.
- Tell the technologist if you are or may be pregnant.
- Stop taking Coumadin (Warfarin), Plavix (Clopidogrel), Ticlid (Ticlopidine) and Pletal (Cilostazol) with permission from the prescribing physicians for 5 days before your discogram. If you take Coumadin (Warfarin), a Prothrombin Time (PT) and INR will be obtained here at the clinic before the procedure.
- Stop low-molecular weight heparin therapy with Lovenox (Enoxaparin), Fragmin (Dalteparin), Normiflo (Ardeparin) or Orgaran (Danaparoid) with permission from the prescribing physician for 24 hours before the arthrogram.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.
- Bring a copy of the order for the procedure from your referring physician.
- Bring a copy of your personal identification and health insurance information.
What to expect
An arthrogram lasts about 20-30 minutes. Sometimes, arthrography may take longer depending on the imaging needed for a study. Before the procedure begins, your skin is cleansed with antiseptic soap and numbed with local anesthetic. Then, an interventional radiologist injects contrast into the joint. The contrast may make your joint feel full, but it is not usually painful. Following the injection, several x-ray images will be made.
After your procedure, please follow these instructions:
- Drink plenty of clear liquids – at least 8 ounces every hour on the day of the procedure.
- Resume a regular diet and any medications you routinely take (including pain medications).
- Avoid consumption of alcohol for 24 hours.
- Lie flat with your head slightly elevated for 8 hours.
- Do not drive the day of your procedure.
- Do not engage in strenuous work, exercise, physical therapy or lifting for 48 hours.
After your arthrogram, your joint pain may worsen for the next 2-3 days. You may resume your normal medication, including pain medication, after your procedure. Rest and cold compresses are sometimes helpful to reduce any increased joint pain. One of our board-certified interventional radiologists will review the images and send a report to your physician.