What To Expect During An MRI Arthrogram Appointment
Your arrival time is designed to give you 30 minutes to prepare for your exam. This includes paperwork, getting dressed, screening, etc. Please do not wear jewelry the day of your test. We have a locker for safe keeping, but it’s easier to just leave it off. Also, be sure not to take blood thinning medication 72 hours prior to your exam. After filling out paperwork and providing identification and insurance cards (if applicable), you will be called back and asked to change into a gown. Make sure it opens in the back. Next, your technologist will go over some safety/history questions that are pertinent to your MRI or arthrogram. Be sure to mention to the technologist if you are on blood thinners or have allergies to medications or anything else. Once the questions are answered and the examination is explained, and you’ve had a chance to address any of your questions, you will be taken to the mri arthrogram room.
You will be asked to lie down on your back on the exam table, and we will uncover the affected body part. The technologist will then get the fluoroscope (a type of video camera x-ray machine) positioned over the affected joint. They will also get the sterile tray prepped for the radiologist. Once the radiologist enters the room and is introduced, they will begin cleaning the affected area with sterile soap and use a sterile drape to prep the area for the injection of saline with gadolinium. Before the injection, the radiologist will administer a local anesthetic (lidocaine) to the area to numb it. This can sting and burn a little before going numb. Once the area is numb, a needle will be guided through the numbed area with help from the fluoroscope into the joint space for the injection of some x-ray contrast (omnipaque, a type of x-ray dye). Once it is determined that the needle is in place, the radiologist will inject approximately 15-20 cc’s of the saline mixture into the space. This can sometimes give a full or heavy feeling to the joint. Once injected, the needle is removed and you will be taken around for your MRI. There could be a short wait here, but you usually go directly into the MRI immediately after the injection.
Most patients do not experience much pain from the injection, but every patient’s injury/condition is different, so some people experience more discomfort than others. Typically, the fluid that is injected is reabsorbed by the body over the next few hours and will no longer be in the joint. Most people can continue normal activity after this procedure. Be sure to inform the technologist of any unexpected discomfort before leaving.