Arthrogram/Joint Aspiration

An arthrogram is a study of the structures that make up joints. Contrast is injected into the joint to evaluate the cartilages, ligaments and menisci of the joint; commonly performed on shoulders to evaluate for rotator cuff tear.

A joint aspiration is performed if an infection of the joint is suspected. A needle is inserted into the infected joint and the infected fluid is drawn out.

How do I prepare for the exam?

No preparation is needed prior to this exam. However, for arthrograms completed in conjunction with an MRI scan, an MRI screening form will be completed prior to start of the exam.

What can I expect during the exam?

This exam is conducted by a Radiologic Technologist and a Radiologist.

Plain x-rays of the joint of interest will be taken at the beginning of the procedure. The technologist will scrub the area with a special soap to make the area sterile and then drape the area. The radiologist will then insert the needle into the joint, using fluoro (live x-rays) to guide the needle into the proper position.

For a joint aspiration, the fluid that is removed is sometimes sent to the lab for pathology results. This is done upon discretion of the ordering physician.

The exam will take 60 to 90 minutes.

What can I expect after the exam?

The joint will be sore for a few days following the procedure. Post-care instructions will be given to you at the end of your exam.

If the joint becomes red, inflamed or starts oozing, please notify your physician immediately.