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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.


What you need to know about an arthrogram:

An arthrogram is a joint x-ray used to find the cause of pain or check healing after surgery. If you have a prosthesis, you may need an arthrogram to see if it is loose.

How to prepare for an arthrogram:

  • Your healthcare provider will tell you how to prepare. Arrange to have someone drive you home after your procedure.
  • Tell your provider about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicine before the procedure, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about any allergies you have. Tell him or her if you had an allergic reaction to anesthesia or contrast liquid. Tell your provider if you have any medical conditions, such as kidney disease.
  • You may have an MRI or CT after the x-rays are taken. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell healthcare providers if you have any metal in or on your body.

What will happen during an arthrogram:

  • You may be given a shot of anesthesia to numb the area around your joint. A long, thin needle will be put into your joint space. Moving x-rays are used to guide the needle. Joint fluid may be removed.
  • A small amount of contrast liquid will be injected into your joint. The liquid will help make sure the needle is in the right area. Medicine to help keep the liquid in your joint space without spreading to other tissues may also be given.
  • The needle will be removed. You may be asked to move the area to help the liquid coat your whole joint. X-ray, MRI, or CT pictures will then be taken.

What to expect after the arthrogram:

You may have some pain and swelling. This is normal and should get better in a day or two.

Risks of an arthrogram:

  • During or after your procedure, you may feel weak and faint. The shot may create air bubbles that move into your blood vessels and cause breathing problems. You may have pain, redness, and swelling in the area where your shots were given. Your joint may also become swollen and painful.
  • You may lose feeling in your arm or leg for a short time after the shot is given. Muscles or tendons may be injured. You may also get a skin or joint infection. You may be at an increased risk for blood clots. The contrast liquid may cause an allergic reaction, seizures, or kidney damage.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You have sudden trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or rheumatologist if:

  • You have pain or swelling in the injection area for longer than 2 days.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have redness or warmth in the joint area.
  • You have skin changes, such as red or dark spots or hardened, tight skin.
  • Your joints feel stiff, or you have trouble moving your limbs.
  • Your skin becomes swollen, itchy, or burns.
  • You have new numbness in the arm or leg where you had your arthrogram.
  • You have a new rash.
  • You feel weak or dizzy.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Rest your joint as directed.
  • Apply ice to decrease pain and swelling. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on the area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed.
  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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