Magnetic Resonance Arthrogram

Procedure Locations

What is Magnetic Resonance Arthrogram?

What is a Magnetic Resonance (MR) Arthrogram?

An MR Arthrogram is a combination of an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate detailed images of the joints, and an Arthrogram, a procedure in which contrast agents are injected into to the joints to get a better image of what is happening inside of them.

This two-part exam shows more details of your joint than an MRI by itself, including any possible tears in cartilage, tendons or ligaments. The results of this test will assist your physician in the determination of the cause of any pain or discomfort you may be having and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

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Why would my physician recommend an MR Arthrogram?

Your physician may recommend MR arthrography if you have pain or loss of function in your shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee or ankle. An MR Arthrogram can help determine the cause and help guide an appropriate treatment plan.

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How does an MR Arthrogram work?

MR Arthrography starts with a joint injection that is performed under either X-ray or CT guidance. MR Arthrogram uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the joints. These images can be used to diagnose any tears in cartilage, tendons or ligaments.

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What should I expect during an MR Arthrogram?

An MR Arthrogram is a two-part test. First, an Arthrogram will be performed. You will receive a local anesthetic to numb to area. Once numb, contrast agents will be injected into your joint with the help of an image-guided device, typically a fluoroscope or CT scanner, to guide the injection into the right spot. During this part of the test, you may feel discomfort or coolness as the contrast agent is going into your joint.

After the Arthrogram, you will begin your MRI. You will be placed on a sliding exam table and positioned in a way that allows the MRI machine to capture images of the proper joint. A coil will be placed around that joint. It is important that you remain still while the table slides through the scanner where the surrounding magnetic fields and radio waves will capture images of the designated joint. Also, the MRI machine does generate loud noises as images are captured. All patients are given protective ear plugs, or headphones for music. The Technologist will be in the adjacent room operating the scanner, but will be able to hear and communicate with you throughout the exam. The exam can take anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes.

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Are you claustrophobic?

If you suffer from claustrophobia, talk to your physician to see if medication may be prescribed. 

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What should I expect after an MR Arthrogram?

When the MRI is complete, you will receive complete post-procedure instructions. You may be asked to wait until the Radiologist checks the images to ensure no additional images are needed. After the procedure, you may experience pain and stiffness in your joints that lasts for a day or two as your body absorbs the contrast agent. You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever to relieve your symptoms. If there is swelling, you may also want to apply ice to reduce the inflammation. If you still have pain after two days, contact your physician.

Our Radiologist will interpret your study and send the final report to your physician.

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How do I schedule an MR Arthrogram with Fairfax Radiology?

Contact our Scheduling Department for an appointment:

Phone: 703.698.4488 Monday through Friday 8am to 6pm

Fax: 703.698.0864

Or click here to make an appointment request

Please have your written physician order and your insurance card in hand when making your appointment.

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When are appointments offered for an MR Arthrogram?

For your convenience, appointments are available mornings and some afternoons at the locations listed above. Learn more about each location.

Have questions about your insurance coverage?