What is MR arthrography?

The term “arthrogram” means “study of a joint.” In an MR arthrogram, fluid is placed into the joint, followed by an MRI scan. The addition of this fluid greatly enhances the quality of the examination. MR arthrography is more accurate and provides more information than a conventional MRI scan in many instances. This examination provides important information about many problems with your joint. In some cases, x-rays may be used to confirm placement of the fluid into the joint.

What can I expect during this procedure?

The radiologist or technician injects a local anesthetic to numb the area and a thin needle is inserted into the joint. Contrast material (fluid) is injected into the joint. In some cases, a small amount of medication or air may also be injected. During the injection of the contrast agent, patients may feel some slight pressure or discomfort as the joint is distended. The sensation is temporary.

What should I expect after this procedure?

Patients may resume non-strenuous activities immediately after the procedure. Avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours following the procedure. There may be mild discomfort of the joint following the exam. You may apply ice to the joint and take a mild pain relief medicine such as Tylenol. Avoid aspirin. The discomfort will disappear within 1 – 2 days after the exam. Some soreness may also be present at the injection site for up to 24 hours.

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