A shoulder Arthrogram is a common procedure ordered by your doctor to figure out why your having shoulder pain. This is a two part test where you have the shoulder injection to begin with followed by an MRI or less commonly CT. The contrast dye lets the radiologist make a more accurate diagnosis then if you were to have the MRI without the injection. This is a particularly helpful test for looking at the rotator cuff and labrum.
The procedure will be explained by the radiologist and he will answer any questions you may have. Risks such as allergic reaction, infection, bleeding, pain and some others will be outlined. This is a very safe procedure however all procedures carry risks. You will sign a consent form which tells the radiologist that it is ok to proceed.
You will be laid on your back on the fluoroscopy table. Fluoroscopy is a continuous X-ray machine which allows the radiologist to guide the needle into the shoulder joint accurately. First your skin will be cleaned and a drape placed. Next the radiologist will anesthetize your skin and deeper tissues so you are comfortable. The radiologist will then advance a needle into your shoulder using guidance from the X-ray or fluoroscopy. You should feel pressure but not pain, The radiologist can give you more anesthetic if you need it.
Once the radiologist is in the joint, he will inject the MRI contrast dye. This may make your shoulder feel full. He will inject about 13-15 cc. The hard part is over! Now that the dye is in your shoulder, you can have the MRI and hopefully figure out why your having all that pain in your shoulder. Now your shoulder may be sore for a day and you should take it easy. The radiology report will typically be available in 24-48 hours. You can discuss the results with your doctor and see what the next step will be.