Understand the Underlying Cause of Your Joint Pain

Pain can be frustrating, especially when the cause is unclear. Medical imaging can help shine a light onto the cause behind your joint pain symptoms to help your doctor determine the best course of action. This may vary from a therapeutic injection to help ease the pain and allow you to tolerate physical therapy, to the recommendation for surgery.

An arthrogram, also known as arthrography, is a medical imaging technique to visualize the joints – shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles – and evaluate their function. At Center for Diagnostic Imaging (CDI) in Puget Sound, we use MRI or CT technology with arthrograms to give us the best look into your joints.

Watch the Arthrogram Video

This illustrated video gives you a look into a patient’s arthrogram exam experience.

The Patient Experience

C-arm tableFirst, you will lie on a C-arm table (pictured to the right) which is a special medical imaging machine that assists our radiologists in injecting contrast into the joint of interest using fluoroscopy. Image-guided injections help ensure the precise placement of the needle containing the contrast, ensuring accuracy and keeping your safety a top priority.

The contrast is injected directly into the joint of interest and fills the entire joint so that the structure can be monitored in motion.

Next, you may be moved to our MRI or CT suite, depending on the specific exam your doctor ordered. The contrast that was injected during the fluoroscopy part of your exam also highlights the region for the MRI or CT to better show bone, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. This helps determine if there is a tear, disease or another condition within the joint.

As with any medical imaging exam, the radiologist will consider the information from the injection along with the additional information from the MRI or CT scan images, and write a detailed report for your doctor.

How to Schedule an Arthrogram

A health care provider’s referral is required for this exam. Talk to your provider to see if you are a good candidate for this procedure. If you have a referral, you can call CDI to schedule an appointment at 425.291.8352.