What is an Arthrogram?

An arthrogram is an X-ray image or picture of the inside of a joint (e.g. shoulder, knee, wrist, ankle) after a contrast medium (sometimes referred to as a contrast agent or “dye”) is injected into the joint. An arthrogram provides a clear image of the soft tissue in the joint (e.g. ligaments and cartilage) so that a more accurate diagnosis about an injury or cause of a symptom, such as joint pain or swelling, can be made.

A radiologist injects the contrast medium into the joint using fluoroscopy (a special type of X-ray), computed tomography (CT) or ultrasound to help guide the injection needle into the correct position.

Once the injection is finished, images of the joint are taken using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CT. While a plain MRI or CT can provide some information of the soft tissue structures, an arthrogram can sometimes provide much more detailed information about what is wrong within the joint. Improvements in technology and X-ray imaging equipment mean that the use of arthrograms is becoming less common.

Occasionally, an arthrogram is only used to confirm that an injection needle is correctly positioned in the joint. This is usually as part of a treatment of painful joints where medications or anaesthetic need to be injected.

For more information about the imaging services available at Memorial Hermann Surgical Hospital First Colony, please call us at (281) 243‑1000.

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