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MR Arthrography - Benefits and Risks

Benefits

  • MR Arthrography is particularly effective for detecting tears or lesions of the structures and ligaments of the joints, especially the knee, wrist and elbow, as well as rotator cuff tears or damage from a shoulder dislocation.
  • MR arthrography is a noninvasive imaging technique that does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation.
  • MR arthrography enables the discovery of abnormalities that might be obscured by bone with other imaging methods.
  • The contrast material used in a MR arthrography exam is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based contrast materials used for conventional x-rays and CT.

Risks

  • Any procedure where the skin is penetrated carries a risk of infection. The chance of infection requiring antibiotic treatment appears to be less than one in 1,000.
  • MR arthrography poses almost no risk to the average patient.
  • If sedation is used, there are risks of excessive sedation.
  • Although the strong magnetic field is not harmful in itself, implanted medical devices that contain metal may malfunction or cause problems during an MR exam.
  • There is a very slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is injected. Such reactions usually are mild and easily controlled by medication.
  • Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is currently a recognized, but rare, complication of MRI believed to be caused by the injection of high doses of gadolinium contrast material in patients with very poor kidney function.