Hip Arthrogram Procedure

Hip arthrograms are commonly done procedures in the radiology department.  They are usually done as an outpatient.  You usually stay awake during the procedure.  Hip arthrograms are done for hip symptoms like pain.  A CT or MRI procedure follows a hip arthrogram in most cases.

What is a hip arthrogram?

A hip arthrogram is a procedure where contrast is injected into the hip joint before a CT or MRI.  This is done to get a more detailed look at the structures inside the hip.  You can have a CT or MRI without the contrast injection but it does not provide as much detail and give us as much confidence with the diagnosis.

Indications for a hip arthrogram

Hip arthrograms are usually done when a patient has hip pain or other symptoms that are thought to be caused by pathology in the hip.   Often there is concern for a tear of the labrum.  This is a ring of cartilage on the socket of the hip joint.

MRI arthrogram hip

An MRI of the hip often follows a hip arthrogram.  The MRI provides us the diagnostic information about the hip after the arthrogram.

CT arthrogram hip

This is less commonly done after a hip arthrogram.  Usually CTs after the arthrogram are done for patients who can not tolerate MRI.  The hip arthrogram procedure is the same as for an MRI.

Hip arthrogram benefits

Hip arthrograms allow us to get more detail about the hip and make a more confident diagnosis then if you had the MRI without the arthrogram.  This can help your doctor guide therapy.

Hip arthrogram technique

You will check into the radiology department for your appointment.  Often you will be asked to change into a gown.   A technologist will often get a brief history, ask you about any medications you take and allergies.  They will also explain the procedure.
The technologist will then take you into the fluoroscopy suite. This is where the live x ray machine is located.  The machine lets the radiologist direct the needle into the joint for the injection.  He uses fluoroscopy to see the needle as it is placed into the hip joint. 
The radiologist will explain the procedure, the benefits, alternatives and potential complications.  You will then be placed on the fluoroscopy table lying on your back.  The injection site will be marked on your skin by the radiologist.  He will clean the area with something like betadine.  He will then numb the area both around the injection site at the skin and deep to it. A drape will be placed to keep the area clean.

The radiologist will then place a needle through the skin and direct it to your hip joint using fluoroscopy or live X-ray. I instruct patients to tell me if they feel any sharp pains during the procedure. In those cases, I will administer more local 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 fill the 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.

Are you sedated for an arthrogram?

No.  You are fully awake.  You only get local anesthesia at the injection site.

How long does an arthrogram of  hip take?

The procedure itself usually takes under 15 minutes.  Check in to radiology and preparation for the procedure may take longer.

Does a hip arthrogram hurt?

In most cases, no.  It is essential to have the area properly anesthetized however.  Tell the radiologist if you feel any sharp or stabbing pains during the procedure so he can administer more local anesthetic.

Hip arthrogram recovery

Most patients are able to walk and resume normal activities after the hip arthrogram and MRI.  Some patients may feel sore or numb in the hip area, but that usually goes away after a day.

Hip arthrogram complications

Complications are rare.    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.

Hip arthrogram: summary

A hip arthrogram is an injection into the hip joint using fluoroscopy or live X-ray.  The injection is done before a CT or MRI.  The hip arthrogram gives us more detail and confidence in diagnosis then if you just had a plain MRI.





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.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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