What is an MRI arthrogram? What to expect for this MRI procedure.

We found that one of the top items on shields.com that people are looking for information on is an MR arthrogram. Since so many people are interested in this topic, we thought we should provide some additional information. 

What is an MR arthrogram?

An MRI arthorgram is an imaging study conducted to diagnose an issue within a joint. The exam is done in two parts and usually with the aid of a contrast agent called gadolinium that will help to highlight the visualization of joint structures and improve the MRI evaluation. 

An arthrogram is used to:

  • Identify the presence of abnormal growths or cysts.
  • For diagnosis of complete rotator cuff tears, adhesive capsulitis, tear of the rotator interval, disorders of the biceps tendon and impingemetn syndrome.
How do I prepare for the exam?

Prior to your appointment, a Shields representative will contact you to review your medical history and answer any questions that you may have.  If you suffer from claustrophobia or anxiety, you may want to request a wide, open-bore MRI or ask your physician about being sedated prior to the scheduled examination.

Patients are asked to withhold fluids two hours prior to arrival. You should wear comfortable clothing and remove any metal including jewelry, under wire bras and hair pins.

If you have had previous imaging studies such as MRI, CT or X-rays that were done at another facility other than Shields, please bring the films and reports with you to your appointment.

How long is the exam?

The length of the test may vary based on several factors, but is usually one to two hours. A team of Shields specialists are available to answer any questions throughout the exam.

During the exam – what should I expect?  

The first part of the exam is completed with the assistance of an x-ray machine called a C-arm. The procedure begins with the application of a local anesthetic to the joint area being scanned. A radiologist then injects the area with a small amount of the contrast agent (gadolinium) under the guidance of x-ray. The patient is then sent to the MR room for the imaging portion of the scan.

The second part of the exam is the MRI scan. Shields MRI systems uses a combination of a powerful magnet, radio signals and sophisticated computer software technology to create amazingly clear, detailed images of the inside the body. There is no radiation with MRI and the machine does not touch you at any time. At Shields, patients may relax and listen to their choice of XM satellite radio music while the images are being taken.

After the exam – what should I expect?

After the exam is complete, you may resume regular activities and normal diet (provided you have not been sedated). Some patients may experience swelling and discomfort around the joint where injected.  You may apply ice to the joint to reduce swelling if it is bothersome. These symptoms usually disappear after 48 hours. Contact your doctor if they persist after two days.

When will I receive my results?

Following the test, the images will be reviewed and prepared for interpretation by the radiologist. The results are then sent to your referring physician who will be responsible for discussing the results with you. 

How much will an MR arthrogram cost?

The price of the test is depending on location and your insurance coverage. Keep in mind that this test is two parts- the x-ray/injection and the MRI. If you are price shopping, be sure to ask for the TOTAL price of the test including both parts.

At Shields, the total price is estimated to be between $880 - $1,083, depending on your insurance & location. On average, non-partnering hospitals are abour 60% higher in price than Shields services. For an exact price for your arthrogram at Sheilds, please contact our Patient Financial Services team at:  877-712-3075. These representatives are dedicated to providing pricing information to our patients, a service few other healthcare providers offer. Shields is proud to be a leader in healthcare pricing transparency. 

Where can I get an MR arthrogram in Massachusetts?

Shields offers MR arthrograms at 10 of our 25 MRI locations incuding: Shields MRI Framingham, Shields MRI Weymouth, HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, UMass Memorial MRI & Imaging Center, Marlborough Hospital, Baystate Franklin MRI Center, Wing Memorial Hospital, Shields MRI at Lowell General Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital and Winchester Hospital-Shields MRI at Unicorn Park. 

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