Arthrogram (Joint X-Ray)
You can have a few problems from an arthrogram,
- Joint pain for more than 1 or 2
- An allergic reaction to the dye.
- Damage to the
structures inside your joint or bleeding in the joint. But this is very rare
because the needle that is used is small.
- Infection in the joint.
There is always a slight risk of damage to cells or tissue
from being exposed to any radiation, including the low levels of radiation used
for this test. But the risk of damage from the X-rays is usually very low
compared with the potential benefits of the test.
An arthrogram is a test using
X-rays to obtain a series of pictures of a
joint after a
contrast material (such as a dye, water, air, or a
combination of these) has been injected into the joint. The radiologist may
discuss the initial results with you after he or she reviews all the pictures.
A detailed report will be available to your doctor in a few days.
The joint capsule, the sac
containing joint fluid, is normal. The cartilage and other structures of the
joint are normal.
The cartilage is worn down
(degeneration) or there is a tear in the cartilage cushion of the joint.
There is a tear in the ligaments or tendons of the joint. The tear may be
partial or complete. If a
rotator cuff tear in the shoulder is present, the dye
leaks from the tear.
The joint capsule is enlarged or has
ruptured. A joint cyst is present.
Abnormal material is present in
the joint. This could be a tumor, extra growth of joint tissues, or pieces of
bone or cartilage.
After your doctor has seen the condition of your joint
area, further treatment with medicine, physical therapy, or surgery may be
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
- If you cannot hold still during the test. The
pictures may not be clear.
- If there is a large amount of fluid in
your joint. This may affect the spread of the dye and the pictures.
What To Think About
- Magnetic resonance image (MRI) and computed
tomography (CT) give different information about a joint. These tests may be
used with an arthrogram or when an arthrogram does not give a clear picture.
Also, an MRI or
arthroscopy may be used before or in addition to an
arthrogram to check your joint problem. For more information, see the topics
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Knee,
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Shoulder, and
- An arthrogram may be done if
other tests, such as MRI, are not available. It also may be done to help your
doctor decide whether arthroscopy is needed.
- An arthrogram is
usually not done during pregnancy.