Ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of a small transducer (probe) and ultrasound gel placed directly on the skin. Ultrasound examinations do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays), thus there is no radiation exposure to the patient. Musculoskeletal Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat muscle, tendon and joint pathology.
- Tendon tears, or tendinitis of the rotator cuff in the shoulder, Achilles tendon in the ankle and other tendons throughout the body.
- Muscle tears, masses or fluid collections.
- Ligament sprains or tears.
- Inflammation or fluid (effusions) within the bursa and joints.
- Nerve entrapments such as carpal tunnel syndrome, ULNAR NEUROPATHY.
- Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections).
- Ultrasound is widely available, easy-to-use and less expensive than other imaging methods.
- Patients with cardiac pacemakers and certain types of metallic implants or fragments in the body cannot be safely exposed to the strong magnetic field required for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); however, patients can safely receive ultrasound imaging.
- Ultrasound is also an excellent alternative to MRI for claustrophobic patients.
- Compared to MRI, ultrasound may provide greater internal detail when assessing soft tissue structures such as tendons and nerves.
- Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they can show the movement of a soft tissue structure such as a tendon, joint or an extremity.