A speciality in its own right within the ultrasound imaging modality musculoskeletal ultrasound or MSK imaging is changing the way treatment and recovery for sports injuries and other muscular, tendon and ligament problems are treated.
Musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasound has become an indispensable imaging technique for evaluating soft tissue and joint related abnormalities. With multi-planar capabilities the ability to use movement and compression to dynamically assess structures and compare affected and unaffected sides can easily be achieved.
It is an important imaging technique for the diagnosis and follow-up of patients with joint pain and dysfunction, soft tissue injury and soft tissue masses and is an indispensable tool in the clinical management of sports injuries, joint disorders and disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Common areas and reasons for examination
Shoulder or Upper back
Pain, frozen shoulder, rotator cuff injury, swelling or masses , impingement and instability.
Muscle or tendon tears, pain, swelling/masses
Pain, golfers or tennis elbow, masses.
Wrist and Hand
Pain, swelling or inflammation of the joint, soft tissue injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, masses.
Pain, swelling, inguinal/femoral hernia
Lower back Scan
Hip Scan or Hip Implant Scan
Pain, osteoarthritis, fluid/effusions
Pain, cruciate cartilage injury, swelling of the joint, injury, masses.
Ankle and Foot Scan
Injury, instability, impingement, numbness, tingling, masses or swelling.Musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasound aids in the crucial decision making process regarding surgical intervention and in monitoring the effects of therapy. Equally important is the fact that it is non invasive, readily available, affordable, fast and accurate at diagnosing many problems.
Your ultrasound evaluation maybe of the entire joint or a partial study tailored to an area of interest. During the ultrasound study we will discuss your clinical symptoms and ask you to demonstrate or describe the mechanisms of your injury, point to areas of tenderness and show us if there are any symptomatic changes with movement. By listening to you a more accurate diagnosis can be more readily achieved and a more successful examination.
What are some common uses of ultrasound?
Ultrasound images are typically used to help diagnose:
• tendon tears typically tears of the rotator cuff in the shoulder or Achilles tendon in the ankle.
• abnormalities of the muscles including tears and soft-tissue masses.
• bleeding or other fluid collections within the muscles, bursae and joints.
• small benign and malignant soft tissue tumors.
• early changes of rheumatoid arthritis.
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Depending on the clinical request and the presenting symptoms, the ultrasound examination can involve a full assessment of a joint, or it can be tailored to a specific region of interest.
Common areas treated include shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand, hip, knee and ankle. It can be particularly useful following a sports injury.
Ultrasound is also an ideal imaging modality for needle guidance for interventional procedures within the musculoskeletal system, such as medicinal/steroid injections, aspiration of cysts/fluid, biopsy, lavage and aspiration of tendon calcifications.
Ultrasound provides direct visualisation of the needle, monitors the needle pathway and shows the position of the needle within the target area.
Direct visualisation of the needle allows the practitioner to avoid significant vessels, adjacent nerves and other structures at risk.
Before any procedure, a thorough ultrasound examination is performed to characterise the target area and its relationship to surrounding structures.