Jeffrey P. Clarke, MD
An arthrogram is a interventional procedure to put a contrast material into a joint and is paired with an MRI scan to create images of the joint. This a kind of study that your doctor will order to look for injuries to specific structures and/or specific joint conditions. The arthrogram is not necessary for all joint MRIs but can be very useful for certain conditions. This will be ordered as an MR arthrogram or CT arthrogram by your doctor. The most common joints for this procedure are shoulders, hips, elbows, and wrists.
The study is comprised of 2 separate components... the joint injection followed by the MRI( or occasionally CT scan). After the skin over the joint is cleaned in a sterile fashion and the soft tissues numbed with lidocaine, a small needle is inserted into the requested joint using fluoroscopic guidance. A solution containing saline, lidocaine, iodinated contrast, and gadolinium contrast is then used to fill the joint. A bandage is placed on the skin when the procedure is done and the patient is then sent down to the MRI suite for the second portion of the study.
Once the MRI is completed, the radiologist who performed the arthrogram will then look at and interpret the MR images in order to create a written report. This interpretation will be used by your physician to help guide clinical management for your young athlete.