An arthrogram injection is an injection of a radioactive tracer into a joint to allow better visualisation of internal joint structures during a Nuclear Medicine examination. The study will be reported by a radiologist or nuclear physician, and the results sent to your doctor.
You may eat and drink as normal before and after the procedure. If you are on any regular medication, or have diabetes and are on insulin, take your usual medicines and diet.
Please tell us if you are on medication to thin your blood (e.g. Warfarin, Aspirin or Clopidogrel), have an iodine allergy or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
First, the skin in the affected area will be cleaned with antiseptic. The radiologist inserts a fine needle into the joint that your doctor has asked us to inject using an aseptic technique (strict infection control practices). We use x-ray or ultrasound to guide the placement of the needle safely and accurately into the correct position.
X-ray contrast is usually injected into the joint to confirm that the needle is in the correct location.
For Nuclear Medicine studies, you will be transferred to the Nuclear Medicine section for imaging once the radio-tracer has been injected.
You may experience a feeling of fullness and/or tightness as the joint is distended with fluid, but the procedure is usually well tolerated.
Any discomfort in the joint should settle within 24 hours as the contrast is absorbed.
No strenuous activity for 48 hours after the arthrogram.
Occasionally there may be soreness or bruising at the site of the injection. If required, an analgesic such as paracetamol (Panadol) should be sufficient. An ice-pack may also provide some relief.
Infection is uncommon, but it is a serious side effect. If you notice any fever or redness, swelling, or increased pain at the injection site after the first two days, notify your referring doctor or immediately call the clinic where the injection was performed.
Risks / Side effects
Arthrogram injections are generally safe.
Potential risks include infection within the soft tissues or joints, which is an uncommon but serious side effect. If x-ray contrast is administered, there is a small risk of an allergic reaction. A mild allergic reaction occurs in 1/1000 injections and includes a rash, hives or sneezing. More severe reactions such as difficulty breathing are less common. Severe life-threatening reactions are extremely rare (1 in 170,000).
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