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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What is 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 do I 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 should I expect after an arthrogram?

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

What are the 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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Further information

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