Arthrography

Arthrography scanAs part of Gwinnett Medical Center’s General Imaging, our Lawrenceville, Duluth and Hamilton Mill offices offer several different types of arthrographies—a method to evaluate conditions of joints through medical imaging.

Conventional arthrography uses a special form of X-ray called fluoroscopy and a contrast material containing iodine. Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see bones, joints and internal organs in motion. When an iodine contrast is injected into the joint, it fills it and appears bright white on an arthrogram.

An MR arthrography also involves the injection of a contrast material into the joint that contains gadolinium, which affects the local magnetic field. Alternate methods of arthrography examinations use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT scan).

An MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures.

A CT arthrography uses the same type of contrast material as conventional arthrography and may be supplemented by air to produce a double-contrast CT arthrogram. CT arthrographies make cross-sectional images processed by a computer using X-rays.

Arthrography scanWhat Are Some Common Uses of the Procedure?
Arthrographic images help radiologists and physicians assess the anatomy and function of the joint, and evaluate alterations in structure and function of a joint. From the results of an arthrography, physicians can determine the possible need for treatment, including arthroscopy, open surgery or joint replacement.

The procedure is most often used to identify abnormalities within the:

  • Shoulder
  • Wrist
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Ankle

The procedure is also used to help diagnose persistent, unexplained joint pain or discomfort.

Who Interprets the Results and How Do I Get Them?
A radiologist will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will discuss the results with you.

Follow-up examinations are often necessary. Your doctor will discuss this with you. Sometimes a follow-up exam is done because a suspicious or questionable finding needs clarification provided by additional views or a special imaging technique.

A follow-up examination may also be necessary so that any change in a known abnormality can be detected over time. Follow-up examinations are sometimes the best way to see if treatment is working or if an abnormality is stable over time.

What Are the Benefits and Risks?

Benefits
Arthrography is particularly effective for detecting tears or lesions of the structures and ligaments of the joints, especially the:

  • Knee
  • Wrist
  • Elbow
  • Rotator cuff

Risks

  • Any procedure where the skin is penetrated carries a risk of infection. The chance of infection requiring antibiotic treatment appears to be less than one in 1,000.
  • The benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk of not having an arthrography performed. Your physician will discuss with you any questions and concerns you have with any of these procedures.

Gwinnett Medical Center Imaging has three convenient Atlanta-area locations in LawrencevilleDuluth or Hamilton Mill. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call 678-312-3444.