What is an arthrogram?
An MRI arthrogram is an image guided injection followed by an MRI scan. Low radiation dose x-rays or ultrasound are utilized to guide a needle into the site of concern. This procedure also utilizes contrast that shows up on the x-rays and MRI.
How do I need to prepare for the scan?
You will have to inform the doctor before the procedure if:
You have had a reaction to contrast in the past
You are on blood thinning medication such as warfarin, clopidogrel, aspirin, rivaroxaban
You have been recently taking antibiotics or you are still taking antibiotics
You have an ongoing infection
Any allergies to medications
You are or might be pregnant
You are claustrophobic
We advise you to bring someone with you if necessary as you may not be allowed to drive after the procedure.
In the procedure room:
The radiologist starts the procedure with a fluoroscopy scan using low dose x-rays to identify the exact part of the joint that needs to be injected. A blunt marker that is visible on x-rays is placed on the skin to locate the site of injection. The area is then marked with a marker pen.
The radiologist will clean the area thoroughly, inject local anaesthetic and then insert a needle into the joint to inject contrast under fluoroscopic guidance. A dressing will be applied after the procedure. This needs to be kept dry and clean at least for the following three days.
You will then be taken to the MRI suite. Prior to the examination you will be asked to complete a questionnaire, to make sure that it is safe to perform the MRI scan. This will assess whether you have any metallic objects in your body, as some may be contraindicated. You will be asked to remove any external metallic objects. It is crucial to remain still for the entirety of the examination as movement hinders examination interpretation.
After the scan - important aftercare:
Strenuous activity should be avoided for a few days after the procedure. Normal pain relief medication can be taken, as the area may be sore for the first few days.
The result will be made available for you at your outpatient appointment with your consultant.
Compiled by Dr. Veronica Attard