MRI Arthrogram

An arthrogram procedure is performed prior to your MRI scan. This procedure helps to demonstrate the structures in the joint of interest more clearly.

  • WHAT IS MRI Arthrogram

    Under image guidance, a very fine needle is used to inject a dye into the joint which helps us better visualize structures within the body. Local anaesthetic is used to numb the skin before the needle is positioned.

    You will then have your MRI scan, which will take a further 30-40 minutes. You should expect to be in the department for 1 ½ – 2 hours.

  • Preparation for your Arthrogram

    Preparation for your Arthrogram is much the same as for an MRI. We will require you to complete the following forms before the procedure.

    Unless you have been given specific instructions by our staff, no special preparation is required prior to the exam.

  • Safety

    Prior to your Arthrogram, we will require you to complete a safety screening form. Should you wish to complete this prior to your appointment, a copy is available for download »


    As the MRI scanner is an enclosed space, occasionally claustrophobia is a problem for some patients. If you have claustrophobia or anxiety, you may opt to receive a light sedative. If this is the case, you need to contact our MRI staff on 0800 774 9729 extn 1 at least 24 hours prior to your scan for information and assistance.

    Following your scan, you will require a driver as the effects of the sedative will last some time, and as such you must refrain from any significant activity for the rest of the day. You should neither drive a car nor operate any machinery.

    Surgical Implants

    In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients with metal implants, except for a few types. People with the following implants cannot be scanned and should not enter the MRI area:

    • Cardiac pacemaker
    • Internal (implanted) defibrillator
    • Cochlear (ear) implant

    You should tell the MRI technologist if you have medical or electronic devices in your body, because they may interfere with the exam or potentially pose a risk.

    The following items can also pose a risk and should be discussed with our staff prior to your scan:

    • Clips used on brain aneurysms
    • Cardiac or carotid shunts
    • Artificial heart valves
    • Implanted drug infusion ports
    • Infusion catheter
    • Implanted electronic device, including a cardiac pacemaker
    • Artificial limbs or metallic joint prostheses
    • Implanted nerve stimulators
    • Metal pins, screws, plates or surgical staples

    In general, metal objects used in orthopaedic surgery and abdominal surgeries pose you no risk during an MRI. However, if there is any question of their presence, an x-ray may be taken to detect the presence of any metal objects.

    Metallic Foreign Bodies

    Those people who have had metal in their eyes from grinding metal should contact us before their scan. In some cases an x-ray will need to be taken to ensure that all the metal has been removed.

    Other metallic foreign bodies such as shrapnel may also require an x-ray prior to an MRI.

    Tattoos, Fillings and Dental Braces

    Dyes used in tattoos may contain iron and could heat up during MRI, but this is rarely a problem.

    Dental fillings and braces usually are not affected by the magnetic field but they may distort images of the facial area or brain, so the radiologist should be aware of them. Please advise our staff prior to your scan.


    Women should always inform the MRI technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Because the risks of an MRI exam to the unborn foetus are unknown, pregnant women should not have this exam unless the potential benefit from the MRI is assumed to outweigh the potential risks.

    Contrast Dye (Gadolinium)

    Some MRI examinations may require that the patient receive an injection of gadolinium based contrast into the bloodstream. You will be asked if you have allergies, however, Gadolinium based contrast agents used in MRI are very safe and do not contain iodine, making it less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

    You must advise us if you have kidney disease or diabetes and especially if you are undergoing.

    Should you have any queries or concerns, please contact our staff prior to your scan. MRI reception can be reached at 0800 774 9729 ext 1.

  • During the Procedure

    You will be asked to lie on a special bed and be given an injection of local anaesthetic to numb the skin. Under video x-ray guidance or Ultrasound guidance, one of our Radiologists will inject a small amount of contrast dye into the joint/region of interest. This dye will outline soft tissue structures inside your joint (e.g. ligaments and cartilage), allowing us to produce much clearer images and may provide more information about what is wrong with the joint.

    Following the injection, you will have a MRI scan, which produces high-resolution images of your joint; this will take approximately 45 minutes.

    You will be taken to the MRI department on Level 3, where a Radiographer, one of our staff trained in operating the MRI, will position you on a special bed. Your head will be placed in a padded head rest or on a pillow. The bed will then slide into the scanner. You will be able to communicate with the Radiographer throughout the examination as a communication button will be placed in your hand.

    While the machine is taking the pictures you will hear loud thumping noises coming from the scanner. Earplugs or headphones will be provided to reduce any discomfort. You are welcome to bring your own music CD with you should you wish to.

    During this time you need to stay quite still and breathe normally. If you do feel the need to move or cough let the Radiographer know. Following these directions will produce the best possible images.

    The whole procedure will usually be repeated several times, and the actual exam usually takes 30-45 minutes. Please note that these are lengthy procedures and you could be in the department for longer than expected.

  • Important Information

    • Please complete our safety questionnaire and bring it with you to your appointment. You can download a copy here.
    • Please note that our scanner will only take patients that weigh less than 140kg, if you feel this may be an issue, please contact us.
    • Park in the basement car parks marked ‘Orthopaedics & Radiology‘, otherwise you may be towed. Read our Parking and Transportation page for more information.
    • We are located in Building C of Ascot Office Park. Take the lift to level 3 for MRI examinations.
    • Park in the basement car parks marked ‘Medical Centre‘, otherwise you may be towed. Read our Parking and Transportation page for more information.
    • Our Greenlane Clinic is located in Building C of Ascot Office Park. Take the lift to level 3 for MRI examinations.
    • Our Manukau Clinic is located at 175 Cavendish Drive Manukau and is part of Cavendish Clinic.

Make an appointment online or call our dedicated bookings line