What is Arthrography?

Arthrography (or arthrogram) is a diagnostic study of joint structures using a contrast (dye). The contrast agent is injected to help highlight details inside your joint. Arthrography is commonly ordered by physicians to show the internal workings of a joint, outline soft tissue structures, or identify problems with the ligaments, cartilage, or tendons.

Arthrography Is A Two-Step Exam

One portion of the exam is completed at a hospital radiology department, where the contrast is injected and X-Rays are taken.

The second portion of the exam is completed at an OAI imaging center, where the MRI scan is preformed. For this reason, you may receive pre-registration calls from both an OAI staff member as well as a hospital staff person.

Preparing For Your Arthrography

  • Our OAI staff will contact you prior to your scheduled appointment for pre-registration. Please inform our staff if you have a pacemaker or any type of metal implant, or if you have a known allergy to Iodine.
  • Blood thinners (such as Coumadin, Heparien, Lovenox, etc.) should be discontinued five days before your exam. Be sure to consult with your doctor before discontinuing these medications.
  • If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, liver or kidney health issues, or are over 60 years old you will be asked to get a blood test to confirm your kidneys are filtering sufficiently.
  • We recommend contacting your insurance company regarding benefits and coverage prior to your appointment date. Depending on your insurance coverage, a partial payment may be due on your appointment day. Payment arrangements may be made prior to your appointment with the OAI Billing Department at 541-608-0350.
  • You may eat, drink, and take medications as usual, unless you are advised differently.
  • Wear comfortable clothing with no metal (zippers, buttons, etc).
  • Remove all other metal items, such as jewelry, watch, or hearing aids. OAI will provide you with comfortable pants and gown as needed.
  • Please arrange a driver if you will be traveling from one of the X-Ray facilities to OAI’s imaging center for your MRI. This allows you to reduce the amount of movement in your joint while traveling to the second phase of your appointment.

The Day Of Your Arthrography

  • Please allow approximately an hour and a half for the MRI portion of your appointment. Actual scanning time will take between 30-60 minutes per exam. Multiple scans may take longer. The entire arthrography exam (including both phases at both locations) may take up to three hours to complete.
  • You will check in at the time of your appointment at the Oregon Advanced Imaging center identified during your pre-registration phone call. Once you have completed your patient registration, you will be directed to the hospital’s registration. They will process their respective paperwork and arrange for you to be escorted to their radiology department, where the contrast agent will be injected into your joint.
  • X-Rays will be taken once the contrast is administered. Once the X-Ray portion of your exam is completed, you will be directed back to the OAI imaging center for the MRI segment of your exam.
  • For optimal imaging quality during the scan you will need to remain as still as possible. Our technologists will make every effort to make you comfortable during the procedure.
  • During your exam you will hear loud thumping sounds, but will feel no physical sensations. Earplugs and headphones for music are available; bring a favorite CD if you have a music preference.
  • As soon as a radiologist interprets your MRI images, OAI will forward a report to your doctor. This takes approximately 3-5 workdays. Your doctor will contact you with your exam results.

What To Expect After Your Arthrography

You may experience some soreness at the injection site for up to 24 hours after your procedure. Your joint area may become more painful than usual beginning 4-6 hours after the arthrogram, but the pain will gradually subside over the next day or two.

You can treat soreness with over-the-counter pain medicines, such as ibuprofen, if you do not have any allergies or contraindications for taking it. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

Your joint should return to its usual mobility and level of pain by the second or third day. You can perform light activities the day of the procedure, and return to normal activities the next day.

Download our Arthrography patient preparation sheet

Arthrography Images

Below are some examples of Arthrogram images: