Arthrogram is a procedure involving x-rays of a joint using a fluoroscope, a special piece of x-ray equipment that shows an immediate x-ray image.  A contrast medium is injected into the joint area that helps highlight structures of the joint.

What is the purpose of an arthrogram?

Frequently, arthrogram is ordered to determine the cause of unexplained joint pain.  This fluoroscopic procedure can show the internal workings of specific joints and outline soft tissue structures.  The procedure may also be conducted to identify problems with the ligaments, cartilage, tendons, or the joint capsule of the hip, shoulder, knee, ankle, wrist, or other joints.

What Should I Expect During the Exam?

The joint area will be cleaned and a local anesthetic will be injected into the tissues around the joint to reduce pain.  Contrast agents are then injected into the joint through the same location by attaching the aspirating needle to a syringe containing the contrast medium.  The purpose of contrast agents in x-ray procedures is to help highlight details of areas under study by making them opaque.  After the contrast agent is administered, the patient may be asked to bend and flex the joint to disturb the contrast.