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X-Ray Arthrography

Arthrography is an x-ray examination of a joint that uses a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and a contrast material containing iodine. 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.

Your doctor may recommend an arthrogram to evaluate alterations in structure and function of a joint and help to determine the possible need for treatment, including surgery or joint replacement.

An arthrogram is usually done on an outpatient basis. The patient is positioned on the examination table and x-rays are taken of the joint. Next, the skin around the joint is cleansed with antiseptic and a local anesthetic is injected into the area. A needle with an aspiration syringe is then inserted into the joint space. The radiologist will use the syringe to drain the joint fluid, which may be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Next, the contrast material and sometimes air are injected into the joint space and the needle is removed to prevent the contrast material and/or air from escaping. The patient will be asked to move the affected joint to distribute the contrast material throughout the space. X-ray images are then obtained with the joint in various positions. An arthrogram examination is usually completed within 30 minutes.

For Physicians

Low dose radiation produces internal images.

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