X-Ray and Arthrography
An x-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive medical test that involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of radiation to produce pictures or x-rays of the inside of the body.
Arthrography is the examination of a joint using a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and a contrast material containing iodine.
When iodine is injected into the joint space, it coats the inner lining of the joint structures and appears bright white on an x-ray, allowing your doctor to assess any joint abnormalities. As you move your joint, fluoroscopy makes it possible to see the internal joint structures in motion.
Arthrography is most often used to identify abnormalities within the:
Before the exam
- No special pre-exam diet or fluid intake is necessary
- You may be asked to wear a gown during the exam
- You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images
- You’ll lie on the examination table and a set of x-rays of your joint will be taken. These will be compared with the arthrographic images taken later
During the examThe joint is cleansed with an antiseptic. A local anesthetic, or painkiller, will numb the injection site. The doctor will drain the fluid from the joint space using a needle and syringe. This fluid may be sent to a lab for analysis. Then the contrast material is injected into your joint via the needle.
You’ll be asked to move the joint around to distribute the contrast material throughout the joint space. The dye coats the joint’s internal structures. When x-rayed, the contrast material shows up in white and clearly defines your joint structures.
Then, x-rays are taken. Once the x-ray machine is carefully aimed at the part of the body being examined, it produces a small burst of radiation that passes through the body, recording an image on photographic film or a special digital image recording plate.
You’ll be asked to move your joint in a series of motions. You may feel fullness in the joint from the contrast material. Fluoroscopy uses a continuous x-ray beam to create a sequence of images that are projected on a monitor. As you go through the series of motions, the contrast material reveals the internal spaces in your joint with each movement.You may experience swelling and discomfort after the test, but these symptoms should disappear within 48 hours. Use ice packs and over-the-counter pain medication to make your joint more comfortable.