A hip arthrogram is a common procedure done in the radiology department. It is done on an outpatient basis. Hip arthrogram procedure is done to get a better look at the structures of the hip joint. This is done by directing a needle into the joint under x ray and injecting contrast. This is usually followed by an MRI. The test is performed and interpreted by a radiologist who will provide a report to the ordering doctor.
After you check in to the radiology department and change into a gown, a technologist will often get a brief history and take you into the fluoroscopy suite. This is where the live x ray machine is located to help the radiologist direct the needle into the joint. You will meet the radiologist doing the procedure. He will explain the procedure, the benefits, alternatives and potential complications. He will ask you about any allergies you may have. Some departments will want to know if you are on blood thinners as this can cause an increased risk of bleeding. Complications are very rare in my experience.
You will then be placed on the x ray table lying on your back. I usually talk the patient through the procedure and explain the various steps. The point on your hip where the injection will be done is marked by the radiologist. He will clean the area and then numb the area both around the skin and deep to it. A drape will be placed to keep the area clean.
Using the X-ray machine, the radiologist will then place a needle through the skin and direct it to your hip joint. I instruct patients to tell me if they feel any sharp pains during the procedure. In those cases, I will administer more anesthesia. Usually this is a painless procedure that is tolerated very well. When the radiologist reaches your hip joint with the needle, he will inject the contrast.
The contrast injected will spread throughout your hip joint. The contrast will outline the joint capsule. The labrum will also be outlined and any tears will be easier to diagnose. After the injection is complete, the radiologist will remove the needle and hold pressure on your groin area to stop any oozing of blood. The technologist will then clean the area, give you a bandaid and take you to the MRI suite for further imaging.
After the procedure you may feel sore or have some numbness around your hip and thigh. This usually goes away within a day. Bleeding is always possible but is usually minor and can be stopped with pressure. Infection is extremely rare if adequate precautions and sterile conditions are used. Allergies are possible, but I almost never see this. If there is a known allergy, an alternative procedure may be used or modifications may be made.
The results of the procedure are sent to the ordering doctor. Often this will be an orthopedist. Based on your clinical history and findings of the MRI, a treatment will be planned. This may consist of conservative therapies and rehabilitation all the way to surgery. This test is the best way to non invasively look at your hip and see if anything is wrong.