MR arthrography is a type of imaging procedure that uses magnetic resonance imaging to assess the joints. MR stands for Magnetic Resonance, which means that this MRI technique works by using radio waves and magnets to provide detailed pictures of the inside of your body. The word arthrography refers to joint examination, so MR arthrography is an exam of your joints. MR arthrography involves injecting contrast material into a joint, using fluoroscopy or ultrasound to guide the needle placement, and then performing an MRI.
This blog post will answer some common questions about what it is, how it differs from an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), what it’s used for, and how painful or uncomfortable it may be during the procedure.
What is MR Arthrography Used For?
The MR Arthrogram is used to diagnose injuries in the joints, such as tears and minor fractures. Doctors can also use it to determine whether joint replacements are holding up well. An arthrogram can often identify more subtle damage than an MRI alone that may not be visible on X-rays or CT scans.
What Happens During An MR Arthrogram?
During the examination, you will lie down and the skin surrounding your joint will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. Local anesthetic injection into the skin may be done following this to numb the area where contrast medium will be injected. There may be a slight stinging sensation.
Once the needle is injected into the joint using ultrasound, the contrast medium is injected into the joint after the needle has been carefully placed in the right place. The injection can cause a sensation of fullness in the joint, but this should not be painful. Immediately following the injections, you will be taken to the MRI suite for a joint scan.
Is MR Arthrography Painful?
MR Arthrography is a painless procedure. Mild discomfort may be felt after the injection of contrast material into the joint, but this varies from person to person and is dependent on the type of contrast agent used.
What Is The Difference Between MRI And MR Arthrography?
An MR Arthrogram is a type of MRI that uses contrast dye to highlight tissues around joints. Detailed images can be obtained that can detect any changes or abnormalities in the joint area.
MRIs don’t always show the entire picture of specific body structures. MRIs commonly miss injuries at joints like shoulders, hips, knees, and occasionally wrists and ankles because tears in tendons, cartilages, and ligaments are usually so small and covered by tissue.
Patients struggle to receive a proper diagnosis without an Arthrogram because SLAP tears are easily missed in a standard MRI. The specialized test will help diagnose many kinds of joint damage, including tears and injuries. It is a procedure in which dye is injected into a joint (not a vein) in order to obtain a focused image of the joint during surgery. The on-site radiologist uses fluoroscopy (continuous X-ray film) to direct the contrast needle into the correct position before and during the injection. Afterwards, an MRI will highlight any possible injuries by tracking movements of the contrast. Arthrograms diagnose specific joint injuries better and more effectively than MRIs alone.
Some of the key differences are:
- An MRI can provide detailed information about nearly every structural component of the body, including soft tissues.
- Fluoroscopy and an MRI are used in an arthrogram to diagnose joint injuries that an MRI alone would not likely detect.
- With MRIs, contrast is injected intravenously, but with an Arthrogram, contrast is needle-guided directly into the injured joint.
If you have been experiencing pain related to your joints, contact Rosetta Radiology today so we can schedule your MR Arthrogram appointment!