NY Spine Medicine

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Arthrography for Spine Conditions

Arthrography is a diagnostic study of the joint structures within the body by injection of an x-ray contrast or dye. As the dye disperses, our physician will document whether the dye is contained or leaking. This will give the doctor the opportunity to check the stability and integrity of the joint and at the same time check for any cartilage tear or other injuries.

An arthrogram is sometimes performed as a sole diagnostic test. If the site and nature of the injury can be clearly determined, the diagnostic process may stop here. In other cases, arthrography can be the first phase of a diagnostic process that may also include CT or MRI scans.

Procedure Preparation

There is very little preparation needed for this procedure. In fact, you may decide to go ahead with this procedure during your initial consultation in our Midtown Manhattan outpatient clinic. The procedure will be fully explained to you before you decide to proceed.

If possible, please bring any previous imaging study results(MRI, CT, x-rays), such as films, reports, or CD-ROMs, to your initial appointment. If you do not have current images, we may refer you to have studies done prior to your procedure.

If the arthrogram is performed on either ankle, you will not be able to drive a car immediately after the procedure. Travel by taxi or subway will be ok. For all other arthrograms, assistance will not be required.

Please notify our physician if you are nursing or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

Please be prepared to discuss any medications that you are currently on with our physician. It may be a good idea to bring your medications with you to your initial appointment.

During the Procedure

A thin needle is used to inject an x-ray contrast (dye) solution into the joint. The needle may cause some slight discomfort but for most people, this feeling is minor.

The physician will guide the needle position using x-ray-guidance (fluoroscopy) to ensure the most accurate positioning.

Additional x-rays will be taken after the dye is injected into the joint.

An additional procedure, an injection of an anesthetic (numbing medicine) and/or steroid, may be done at the same time.

The procedure takes approximately 20 minutes.

After the Procedure

There is very little recovery time after this procedure. Many patients return to work the same day.

You may experience some soreness at the injection site for up to 24 hours after your procedure.

Your joint area may become more painful than usual beginning 4-6 hours after the arthrogram, but the pain will gradually subside over the next day or two.

You can alleviate discomfort with over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin.

Your joint should return to its usual mobility and level of pain by the second or third day. Until then, it is perfectly acceptable to perform light tasks.

Possible Side Effects

Although side effects from this procedure are rare, our physician will review any possibilities with you before your procedure. Possible side effects include facial flushing, occasional low-grade fevers, hiccups, insomnia, headaches, water retention, increased appetite, increased heart rate, and abdominal cramping or bloating. These side effects occur in less than 5% of patients and usually disappear within 1-3 days after the injection. If you experience any side effects, please feel free to contact us at any time.