MRI Arthrography


What is it?

An MRI arthrography is performed by placing a small needle into the joint space, and injecting some contrast material. Once the contrast material is in the joint space, an MRI is performed to evaluate the knee, shoulder, hip, wrist, ankle, or other joint.

What is it for?

Joints are made up of two bones that are close together. Cartilage, tendons and ligaments are tissues that cushion and support the joints. MRI arthrography helps to see tears or other problems in these joint tissues.

How to prepare

  • Discuss your medical history, allergies or medications you are taking with your health care provider
  • You’ll need someone to drive you home after the procedure


  • An allergic reaction may occur from the use of a contrast material (dye)
  • The strong magnetic fields can cause pacemakers and other implants to malfunction
  • Metal inside your body may be moved or shifted slightly because of the magnetic fields
  • An MRI is not recommended if you are pregnant, as it can cause a harmful increase in the temperature of the amniotic fluid

What happens during?

  • The procedure takes about 45 minutes
  • X-rays are taken of the joint where the needle will be inserted
  • Skin around the joint is cleaned and the area around the joint is numbed
  • The needle is injected into the joint using a fluoroscope or ultrasound for guidance
  • Contrast material is injected into the joint for more precise images
  • X-rays are taken again
  • You will be asked to move the joint and to exercise the joint
  • X-rays are taken again following the exercise
  • You may have a CT scan or MRI scan after the sequence of X-rays

What happens after?

  • Drink only water and clear fluids for 24 hours following the procedure
  • Limit activity, especially high energy exercise for 24 hours following the procedure
  • You may have some pain and swelling in the joint. You may be instructed to use ice or an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Side effects

Call your doctor immediately if your pain and swelling does not go away or if you have a fever.