A conventional arthrogram is usually used to evaluate the shoulder joint for a rotator cuff tear, or to evaluate the wrist for ligamentous tears. Conventional arthrography is the x-ray examination of a joint that uses fluoroscopy and iodinated contrast material injected into the joint space. When iodine is injected into the joint space, it coats the inner lining of the joint structures and appears bright white on an arthrogram, allowing the radiologist to assess the anatomy and function of the joint.
No special preparation is necessary before arthrography. Food and fluid intake do not need to be restricted. The patient should inform your physician of any medications you are taking and if you have any allergies, especially to iodinated contrast materials. The patient may be asked to remove some or all of his/her clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. The patient may also be asked to remove jewelry, dentures, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.
Women should always inform their physician and x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
For the contrast injection, the radiologist will explain the procedure to the patient, and obtain a consent for the procedure. The patient is positioned on the x-ray examination table in the fluoroscopy room. Next, the skin around the joint is cleansed with antiseptic and covered with a sterile drape. The skin and soft tissues are numbed by local anesthetic injected into the area. A needle is then inserted through this numbed skin into the joint space. Contrast material is injected into the joint space and the needle is removed. The patient will experience a slight pinprick and may feel a momentary burning from the local anesthesia used to numb the area. The patient may feel a fullness as the joint is filled with contrast. The radiologist will exam the joint space under fluoroscopy, and xray images will be obtained after the study.
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