What is Arthrography?
Arthrography is medical imaging to evaluate conditions of joints. There are several methods to do this.
Conventional arthrography is the x-ray examination of a joint that uses a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and a contrast material containing iodine. Alternate methods of arthrography examinations use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT).
An x-ray (radiograph) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.
Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see bones, joints and internal organs in motion. When iodine contrast is injected into the joint, it fills the entire joint and appears bright white on an arthrogram, allowing the radiologist to assess the anatomy and function of the joint. Although the injection is typically monitored by fluoroscopy, the examination also involves taking radiographs for documentation. The images are most often, but not always, stored or viewed electronically.
MR arthrography also involves the injection of a contrast material into the joint, just like in conventional arthrography, except that the MR contrast material is different and contains gadolinium, which affects the local magnetic field. As in conventional arthrography, the contrast material outlines the structures within the joint and allows them to be evaluated by the radiologist.
MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radiofrequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor, printed or copied to CD. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays).
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 makes cross sectional images processed by a computer using x rays.