Arthrography

Medical- Medicine

What are the benefits vs. risks?

Benefits

  • Arthrography is particularly effective for detecting tears or lesions of the structures and ligaments of the joints, especially the knee, wrist and elbow, as well as rotator cuff tears or damage from a shoulder dislocation.

Exams involving x-ray imaging:

  • No radiation remains in a patient’s body after an x-ray examination.
  • X-rays usually have no side effects in the diagnostic range.

Exams involving MR imaging:

  • MRI is a noninvasive imaging technique that does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation.
  • MRI enables the discovery of abnormalities that might be obscured by bone with other imaging methods.
  • The contrast material used in MRI exams is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based contrast materials used for conventional x-rays and CT scanning.

Risks

  • Any procedure where the skin is penetrated carries a risk of infection. The chance of infection requiring antibiotic treatment appears to be less than one in 1,000.

Exams involving x-ray imaging:

  • There is always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk.
  • Patients who have known allergies to iodine may have an adverse reaction to the contrast material. Because the contrast material is put in a joint and not a vein, allergic reactions are very rare, although in some cases, mild nausea to severe cardiovascular complications may result.
  • Women should always inform their physician or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. See the Safety page for more information about pregnancy and x-rays.
  • The effective radiation dose for this procedure varies. See the Safety page for more information about radiation dose.

Exams involving MR imaging:

  • The MRI examination poses almost no risk to the average patient when appropriate safety guidelines are followed.
  • If sedation is used there are risks of excessive sedation. The technologist or nurse monitors your vital signs to minimize this risk.
  • Although the strong magnetic field is not harmful in itself, implanted medical devices that contain metal may malfunction or cause problems during an MRI exam.
  • There is a very slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is injected. Such reactions usually are mild and easily controlled by medication. If you experience allergic symptoms, a radiologist or other physician will be available for immediate assistance.
  • Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is currently a recognized, but rare, complication of MRI believed to be caused by the injection of high doses of gadolinium contrast material in patients with very poor kidney function.

A Word About Minimizing Radiation Exposure

Special care is taken during x-ray examinations to use the lowest radiation dose possible while producing the best images for evaluation. National and international radiology protection councils continually review and update the technique standards used by radiology professionals.

State-of-the-art x-ray systems have tightly controlled x-ray beams with significant filtration and dose control methods to minimize stray or scatter radiation. This ensures that those parts of a patient’s body not being imaged receive minimal radiation exposure.

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