Joint and Knee MRI

A knee MRI is one of the most common bone and joint imaging exams. It uses radio frequencies, magnetic fields, and a computer to produce images of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage in the knee and surrounding area (or any joint). A knee MRI is typically ordered to help doctors assess arthritis, damaged cartilage, ligaments, tendons, or meniscus, and other abnormalities, including fluid buildup in the knee. Other conditions that can be diagnosed with MRI include tumors, inflammatory disease, hereditary abnormalities, and bone marrow disease. Patients will often have already had a musculoskeletal ultrasound before a joint MRI. Insight Medical Imaging also offers arthrography, an X-ray of a joint taken after contrast dye has been injected directly into the area being imaged. This is used for intra-articular structure visualization.


During joint imaging, you may be moved into the MRI machine either head-first or feet-first, depending on the area of interest, on your back. For example, knee MRI scans require patients to enter feet-first, whereas shoulder MRI exams require head-first entry. If you are claustrophobic, please consult with your doctor to see if they recommend you take anti-anxiety medication before your exam.


Alberta Health Services does not cover private MRI services outside of the hospital. The cost of a knee or joint MRI ranges from $600 to $750, depending on the need for contrast.

The need for contrast is determined by the radiologist at the time of imaging if it is determined that it is required for a proper diagnosis. The need for contrast is also impacted by specific patient history.


A joint MRI exam typically last between 30 and 60 minutes. The technologist, who can hear and see you during the exam, will provide you with an emergency button so you can communicate with them throughout the procedure.

Exam Preparation

Being prepared for your joint MRI helps us take the best possible images for diagnosis. Please visit our exam prep page for more instructions specific to joint MRI preparation.