MRI Anthrogram Overview

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What is an MRI arthrogram?

An MRI arthrogram is two-part procedure, involving fluoroscopy and MRI. First, a special type of X-ray technology, called fluoroscopy, is used to take pictures of the joint after a contrast material has been injected into it. This allows the radiologist to see the soft tissue structure of the joint. The joint is then examined with MRI, a routine diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce 2- and 3- dimensional images of the body's organs, tissues and bones.
First, a special type of X-ray technology, called fluoroscopy, is used to take pictures of the joint after a contrast material has been injected into it. This allows the radiologist to see the soft tissue structure of the joint. The joint is then examined with MRI, a routine diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce 2- and 3- dimensional images of the body's organs, tissues and bones.

An MRI arthrogram is a two-part procedure:

  • A special type of x-ray technology, called fluoroscopy, is used to take pictures of the joint during the first part of this procedure
  • After the fluoroscopy, your child will receive an MRI to obtain additional images of the joint.

An MRI arthrogram can be done on the following joints:

  • Ankle
  • Elbow
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Shoulder
  • Wrist

Why might an MRI arthrogram be needed?

Your physician may request an MRI arthrogram when a problem with your child's joint cartilage is suspected. An MRI arthrogram may be more useful than a regular x-ray because it shows the surface of soft tissues lining your child's joint as well as the bones.

MRI is done in conjunction with an arthrogram, as it can obtain specific diagnostic information not provided by the arthrogram.

How should I prepare my child for the MRI arthrogram?

  • There is no special restriction on diet or activity prior to an MRI arthrogram.
  • It is helpful to give your child a simple explanation as to why the test is needed and assure him that you will be there for him entire time. However, you cannot be in the room during the first part of the arthrogram if you are pregnant. If you are pregnant, please bring the other parent or a trusted caregiver.
  • You may want to bring your child's favorite book, toy or comforting object to use during waiting times.
  • If your child will be using the video goggles or listening to music during the MRI, you may want to bring a favorite DVD or an iPod from home. The department also has a collection of movies available.

What happens during the arthrogram?

You and your child will be taken to the procedure room, where the fluoroscope will be used to take x-rays. Your child will need to sit or lie on the fluoroscopy table. The radiologist will:

  • Mark and initial the area on your child's body that's being examined with a felt pen
  • Cleanse the injection area on his skin with a sterile soap
  • Numb the area around his joint by injecting a local anesthetic (your child will feel a numbing sensation)
  • Inject the contrast material and a local anesthetic into your child's joint using a needle. After a small amount of liquid has been injected, the needle will be removed.

After the injection, your child may be asked to move the joint around so that the contrast can be distributed evenly throughout the joint. This portion of the procedure generally takes about 20 minutes.

Will my child feel anything during the arthrogram?

The injection of the anesthetic may cause your child some discomfort, but it's minimized through the use of a numbing agent.

Your child may have some mild pain, tenderness and swelling in the joint after the exam. You may also hear a grating, clicking or cracking sound when the joint is moved. This is normal and goes away in about 24 hours.

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