Understanding Musculoskeletal Imaging Uses and Methods

Understanding Musculoskeletal Imaging Uses and Methods

muscloskeletal imagingMusculoskeletal imaging is a specialty used to look at disorders of the joints, bones and soft tissues associated with their connections. These images can be done on both adult and pediatric patients depending on individual health concerns.

This type of imaging is used in a variety of health explorations including:

  • trauma situations
  • sports medicine (e.g. forceful impacts or repeated strains)
  • work related disorders caused by repeated motions and vibrations
  • bone and soft tissue tumors
  • joint disorders such as certain types of arthritis
  • tears in tendons or ligaments (i.e. knee, shoulder and hip)
  • congenital malformations of extremities in infants and children
  • swelling or bleeding of tissues around joints

During your first appointment with your medical provider, you can expect a physical examination that will involve inspection, palpation and manipulation of the affected area. First they will look for redness, inflammation and other visible signs of an abnormal occurrence. Next they will touch the area and exert some pressure to see how the body responds to an external stimuli. Finally they will perform a range of motions to see how the area reacts to different types of movement. All of these together will help them to determine what kind of musculoskeletal condition they need to consider.

If your doctor determines that imaging would be necessary to see details of your condition, a number of different imaging options can be used:

  1. X-rays – this basic imaging is usually a start to get a first look at the bones, joints and soft tissue to form an initial assessment.
  2. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) – using a large magnet an MRI can produce a detailed look at the structures of the musculoskeletal system giving anatomic detail and even can provide detailed information of bone marrow in cases of infection or tumor.
  3. CT (computed tomography) – these images allow for a production of a three-dimensional view, making them useful in the evaluation of bone architecture, fractures and orthopedic hardware.
  4. Fluoroscopy – is a type of X-ray that creates moving images of joints as they are functioning.
  5. Ultrasound – using sound waves, an ultrasound can produce images of muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments in a noninvasive manner.

Musculoskeletal imaging also assists with soft tissue biopsies when using CT guidance or ultrasonographic procedures.
All of these imaging options have strengths for different diagnosis results and your doctor will help to determine the best course of labs for your individual circumstances.

Peninsula Radiology Associates is a full service imaging provider serving the entire Peninsula.  Our specialists are trained in the latest techniques so that you can have confidence you’re receiving an accurate imaging diagnosis.  Contact us at (757) 989-8830 for an appointment.  We are happy to serve your imaging needs!

 

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