What To Know If Your Physician Orders Arthrography

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Dealing with joint pain can be quite a nuisance. Often, you'll go to your doctor, they'll take a look, and maybe order an x-ray, and then you'll receive a diagnosis and treatment plan. But things do not always go this smoothly. Sometimes your doctor may need a little extra information in order to diagnose your joint pain. They may, therefore, order an imaging test called arthrography. Here's what you need to know if your doctor has ordered arthrography for you.

What is arthrography?

Arthrography is basically a specialized type of x-ray. It's not an MRI or a CT scan. Rather, the test involves your practitioner first injecting a contrasting dye into your joint. With the dye in place, your practitioner will then take a series of x-rays of the joint. The dye allows them to get more precise, readable images than they get with standard x-rays. Your doctor will get a clearer view of soft tissues, such as ligaments and tendons. 

Does arthrography hurt?

Most practitioners will apply a numbing gel, or they may even give you a little local anesthetic prior to injecting the contrast dye into your joint. This minimizes the discomfort you experience during this part of the test. The injection will still be uncomfortable, but it shouldn't be overly painful. The imaging part of the test when the x-rays are taken should not cause any sensation at all. The bottom line is this: arthrography can cause some discomfort, but that discomfort is not serious enough to be a reason you opt-out of this important testing.

How do you prepare for arthrography?

Since you remain awake during the procedure, there's no need to fast or avoid certain foods beforehand. However, if you take any blood-thinning medications, like aspirin, your doctor may ask you to stop taking them for a few days before the test in order to minimize your risk of excessive bleeding from the injection.

How will you feel after arthrography?

After this test, your joint soreness may be more pronounced for a day or two. This is largely due to the injection, and it should subside over time. You may also notice a little swelling in your joints, but that will also go away. Unless you are seriously injured, moving around a little and bending the joint periodically should help it return to normal faster.

Arthrography is a useful imaging tool for doctors, and one that most patients find to be quick and relatively comfortable. If you have any other questions, reach out to your physician. Keep these tips in mind when looking for an arthrography service near you.