MRI Arthrogram

What is an MRI Arthrogram?

An MRI Arthrogram is a diagnostic study of a specific joint such as the hip or shoulder with an injection of contrast directly into the joint called an intra-articular injection. This is followed by an MRI of that injected joint.

How is the examination performed?

You will first have the injection part of your exam in which you will lie down on an imaging table.  The area to be injected will be prepared and the Radiologist will place a needle in the joint space of your hip or shoulder and inject the contrast.  You will then be escorted to MRI where your MRI scan will take place.  If you are having a hip done, you will be placed on your back, feet first into the magnet. If you are having a shoulder, you will be placed on your back, head first into the magnet.  The imaging part will take about 30-45 minutes.  Then you will be done.

Who is a candidate for an MRI Arthrogram?

This exam is normally done on patients experiencing hip or shoulder pain.

Anyone can have an MRI with some exceptions.  If you have a pacemaker or brain aneurysm clips, you can not have an MRI. If you have any other implants, please either bring your implant notification card or the name of the manufacturer to your appointment as some types of implants are not allowed in the MRI scanner.

Will I need to prepare for the exam?

This exam does not require fasting or other preparations prior to the exam.  If possible, please do not wear any jewelry like watches, necklaces, rings, and earrings. Before the exam, you will be asked to remove any jewelry including all piercings.

What will I experience?   

A Registered Technologist will perform your examination and can answer any questions you may have. You most likely will be asked to change into a hospital gown prior to laying down for the injection into your shoulder or hip joint. The Technologist will prepare your shoulder or hip for injection by getting the supplies ready for the doctor. Your hip or shoulder will be cleansed and disinfected prior to the injection.  It may be a little cold. The Radiologist will come in and introduce himself and place a needle into your joint after using some local anesthesia to help with the pain of the injection. You will experience a couple of needle sticks during the local and you may feel only some pressure when the joint needle is placed. Once the needle is in, the doctor will verify it is in the joint by using fluoroscopy (live x-ray) and then he will inject the contrast. The contrast is extremely safe and side effects are very rare. Following the injection of the contrast, the needle will be removed and the area will be bandaged. You will then be taken over to MRI.

Upon entering, you will lie down on your back.  The Technologist will step out of the MRI room and into the control booth to take an initial image.  It is important that you remain as still as possible during the entire exam.  The MRI exam is a noisy procedure. You will be given headphones and music to listen to so that you may have a more pleasurable experience during the MRI scanning process.  You may bring your own CD if you would like.

After images have been acquired the procedure is complete.  The Technologist will remove you from the magnet and you will be allowed to get dressed and leave.  The entire procedure should last approximately 20 minutes to an hour.

What happens next?

Your images will be interpreted by a State of New Mexico licensed and board certified Physician, Radiologist, that specializes in radiology interpretation.  A report will be dictated, transcribed, and faxed to the Physician that ordered your test.  Your Physician will receive the report within 24 hours and is responsible for notifying  you of the results.