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Joint X-ray

Definition

This test is an x-ray of a knee, shoulder, hip, wrist, ankle, or other joint.

Alternative Names

X-ray - joint; Arthrography; Arthrogram

How the test is performed

The test is done in a hospital radiology department or in the health care provider's office. The x-ray technologist will help you position the joint to be x-rayed on the table. Once in place, pictures are taken. The joint may be repositioned for different views.

How to prepare for the test

Inform the health care provider if you are pregnant. Remove all jewelry.

How the test will feel

The x-ray is not uncomfortable, except possibly from positioning the area being x-rayed.

Why the test is performed

The x-ray is used to detect fractures, tumors, or degenerative conditions of the joint.

What abnormal results mean

The x-ray may reveal arthritis, fractures, bone tumors, degenerative bone conditions, and osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone caused by an infection).

The test may also be performed to investigate the following conditions:

  • Acute gouty arthritis (gout)
  • Adult still's disease
  • Caplan syndrome
  • Chondromalacia patellae
  • Chronic gouty arthritis
  • Congenital dislocation of the hip
  • Fungal arthritis
  • Non-gonococcal (septic) bacterial arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pseudogout
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Reiter syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Runner's knee
  • Tuberculous arthritis

What the risks are

There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the smallest amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is low compared with the benefits. Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of the x-ray.

References

Tamisiea DF. Radiologic aspects of orthopedic diseases. In: Mercier LR, ed. Practical Orthopedics. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 16.

Bearcroft PPW. Joint disease. In: Grainger RC, Allison D, Adam, Dixon AK, eds.Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 50.

Review Date: 5/2/2009

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Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Medical Center. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.