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Radiology (Xray)

CT Arthrogram

CT Appointments: RVI: (0191) 282 4330; Freeman Hospital: (0191) 223 1012

What is a C.T. Scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • CT stands for Computerized Tomography and is a special type of x-ray that can look at various parts of the body including the brain, spine, chest, abdomen and joints. The information from the x-rays is recorded in a series of cross sectional pictures or scans that can be built up into a three dimensional image of the area being examined.

What is a CT arthrogram?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Arthrogram means pictures of a joint after injection of contrast medium into it.  The pictures are taken using a CT scanner which provides images of slices through the joint.

Who performs the scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Your scan will be performed by either a Radiologist (medical doctor who specialises in interpreting diagnostic imaging) or a Sonographer who is specially trained in Ultrasound scanning.  Whoever performs your scan will explain what happens and will show you what to do.

What preparation will I need?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Usually, no preparation is required for this examination.

I am a diabetic, does this change anything?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Yes. The preparation procedure may change. Please ring the appropriate radiology department telephone number (as below) at the hospital you are attending and speak to a member of the medical staff (see next question also).

  • Royal Victoria Infirmary Radiology Appointments    (0191) 282 4330 (8.30am-5.00pm)
  • Freeman Hospital Radiology Appointments             (0191) 223 1012 (8.30am-5.00pm)

I take Metformin (Glucophage, Avandamet) Tablets. Does this change anything?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Yes.  Metformin (Glucophage, Avandamet) is most commonly taken by diabetic patients to control blood sugar, but occasionally is taken for other conditions.  If you are taking Metformin, your preparation for the procedure may change.  Please ring the appropriate help-line telephone number, as above, and speak to a member of staff, who will be able to advise you.

Will anything prevent me from having the arthrogram?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Yes. You should inform the hospital consultant looking after you, or the x-ray department as soon as possible if you are taking any tablets to thin the blood (warfarin, aspirin or clopidogrel), or if you have a medical condition which makes it hard for your blood to clot. Please ring the appropriate help-line telephone number and speak to a member of staff, who will be able to advise you.

What if I am pregnant?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • CT scanning of pregnant women should be avoided whenever possible.  If you think you may be pregnant it is very important that you tell the nurse or radiographer before your scan.  To avoid accidental irradiation, all females between the ages of 11 and 55 years are asked the date of their last menstrual period (LMP).  From this information X-ray staff will decide if there is cause for the CT examination to be postponed or if it is safe to continue.

What happens before my scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • When you arrive in the department you should report to the Radiology Reception desk, where your personal details will be checked to ensure that our records are accurate and up to date.
  • You will then be directed towards the CT waiting area, where a nurse, radiographic assistant or radiographer will welcome you, and also explain the scanning procedure to you.
  • The nurse or radiographer will go through a check list with you and will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding your scan. 
  • Depending on which area of your body is to be scanned, you may be asked to undress, in which case, a gown will be provided.


What does the examination involve?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • The first stage of the test involves an injection of the contrast medium. This is performed in a different part of the x-ray department. A special x-ray machine is used and the doctor (radiologist) performing your examination will explain it before beginning. 
  • After cleaning the skin with a sterilising solution and injecting some local anaesthetic, (see below) a needle will be inserted into the joint and the contrast medium injected. 
  • Once the radiologist is happy that the injection is satisfactory, the needle will be removed and you will be taken to the CT scanner. 
  • You will be asked to lie on a couch which passes through the CT scanner, where the x-rays are produced. The scan will be performed by a radiographer.

Local AnaestheticShow [+]Hide [-]

  • Your radiologist will ask you to keep still while the injections are given.
  • You may notice a stinging sensation or warm tingling feeling as the anaesthetic begins to take effect.
  • Your procedure will only go ahead when you and your radiologist are sure that the area is numb.
  • If you are not having sedation, you will remain alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Your radiologist is always near to you and you can speak to him/her whenever you want to.

How long does my scan take?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • The whole examination will take between 45-60 minutes.

How does it feel? Show [+]Hide [-]

  • A stinging sensation or warm tingling feeling as the anaesthetic begins to take effect may be noticed.  Your procedure will only go ahead when you and your radiologist are sure that the area is numb. The joint may feel a little uncomfortable or tight after the contrast medium has been injected into the joint: this feeling usually stops within a few minutes.

What are the risks of having a CT scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Like all X-ray machines, a CT scanner produces potentially harmful X-rays.  Modern equipment is designed to keep the dose to patients as low as possible.  If your doctor has asked for a scan, then he or she will have decided that the benefit of having the information that the scan gives, is greater than the risk of the dose of radiation. 
  • Since X-rays can harm unborn babies, if you are, or could be pregnant, please tell the radiographer or nurse before you have the scan.  This is very important.

Are there any risks associated with CT arthrogram?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • There is an extremely low risk of an infection, or an allergy to the contrast medium.  The radiologist doing the examination will discuss this with you before the test.

What are the benefits of having a CT arthrogram?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • This examination will help us make the correct diagnosis so you will be able to be given the correct treatment.

What happens after my scan? When will I get my results?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • After your scan has finished we will not be able to tell you the results as the reporting radiologist will need to study the images carefully.  If you have come from home, the results will be sent back to the doctor who referred you for your scan. This process takes approximately 2 weeks, so unless other arrangements have been made you should expect to hear something after this time. You will be able to discuss the results when you are next seen in outpatients.

Can I drive home? Show [+]Hide [-]

  • We advise that you do not drive immediately after a joint injection or for the remainder of that day. You should make alternative travel arrangements.

I need an ambulance/ transport. Do you arrange it?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • If you need an ambulance/ transport, you should ask your GP Surgery to arrange it. You will need to give them three working days’ notice.  Please note that hospital transport is provided on medical need only.

What if I cannot attend for my appointment? Show [+]Hide [-]

  • If your appointment time is not convenient please contact the relevant hospital department so that a more appropriate time can be arranged.  This will enable us to reallocate valuable scanning time to someone else.
  • Freeman X-ray Appointments        0191 223 1012 (8.30am-5.00pm)
  • RVI X-ray Appointments               0191 282 4330 (8.30am-5.00pm)

What if I have any comments, suggestions or questions?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Should you have any suggestions or concerns, please make these known to the person conducting your examination or by letter addressed to the hospital that you are attending your examination:
  • The Departmental Manager, X-ray Department, Level 3, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LP
  • The Departmental Manager, Main X-ray Department, Freeman Hospital, High Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7DN
  • Tel: 0191 282 1099
  • Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm
  • All Newcastle Hospitals: Switchboard tel: 0191 233 6161 (24 hours)
  • The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can offer on-the-spot advice and information about the NHS. You can contact them on freephone 0800 032 02 02 or email
  • Information produced by Sharon Iles, Superintendent Radiographer/Dr G Hide, Consultant Radiologist and Dr J Tuckett Consultant Radiologist.

Diagnostic Imaging DatasetShow [+]Hide [-]

  • Information from your diagnostic test will contribute to the Diagnostic Imaging Dataset. 
  • The Diagnostic Imaging Dataset (DID) is a database that holds information on the imaging tests and scans carried out on NHS patients. This will allow the Health and Social Care Information Centre to see how different tests are used across the country.
  • Nothing will ever be reported that identifies you.  All information is stored securely. It is only made available to appropriate staff, and is kept strictly confidential. However, if you do not want your information to be stored in the DID, please tell the people who are treating you. They will make sure your information is not copied into the DID.
  • You may, at a later date, still decide to opt out.  Please contact the Health and Social Care Information Centre directly, their contact details are:
  • Telephone: 0845 300 6016 
  • Email: 
  • Website:
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