Ultrasound is an excellent way to image and evaluate tendons, ligaments, and muscles due to the ability to dynamically image these structures as they move. This is especially useful when a patient is having pain moving a certain way or performing a specific action, as we can observe and evaluate the area of pain during that movement.
The typical locations to evaluate for this type of exam include the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. The most common abnormalities visualized in these areas are:
- Tendon tears, partial/full thickness
- Ligament tears or ruptures
- Presence of abnormal joint-space fluid
- Presence of masses/tumors
What should I expect for my musculoskeletal ultrasound appointment?
A musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasound will consist of the sonographer applying gel to the skin service and placing a small transducer on the skin in the area of concern to create the pictures we see. Since ultrasound is a real-time exam we can evaluate the area of the body in question dynamically. This means, for example, if your shoulder hurts when you reach above your head we can evaluate your shoulder while you are performing that motion. This is one of the biggest advantages of ultrasound compared to other imaging like a CT or MRI.
What can musculoskeletal ultrasound detect?
For musculoskeletal issues, ultrasound is most often used to detect issues affecting tendons, ligaments, and muscles such as tears or ruptures. It can also diagnose abnormalities in many of the joints in the body (knee, shoulder, elbow, etc).
How long does a musculoskeletal ultrasound take?
We allow at least 45 minutes for a musculoskeletal ultrasound. Depending on the specifics and findings of each exam it may take more or less than the specified 45 minutes. As with all of our exams, we will spend as much time as needed to ensure we have thoroughly evaluated the area(s) of concern.
Is musculoskeletal ultrasound a safe procedure?
A diagnostic ultrasound is a safe procedure to have performed. This is because it uses harmless sound waves to create the images we see. There is no radiation or any other harmful effects produced during a diagnostic ultrasound.