What Is Diagnostic Ultrasound?
If you took your car to a mechanic, described the issues you were experiencing, and in 5 minutes were told that you need to stop driving that car, or need to change the transmission, without even looking under the hood would you have confidence in and trust that mechanic? Diagnostic ultrasound provides us with the ability to “look under the hood”. With this imaging modality, we can quickly look through the skin, into the tissues, moving the diagnosis from a general symptom or a “might be” to a clear answer that you can see on the screen and discuss with the physician performing the exam. Ultrasound, or sonography, has been used for decades in various fields. Sonography utilizes sound beams to gather information and produce an image on the screen. There is no radiation involved and is completely safe.
Why Diagnostic Ultrasound?
There are a variety of imaging modalities, some of which include X-ray, CT-scan, MRI and ultrasound, each providing their own benefits and limitations. When it comes to musculoskeletal pain, x-ray largely evaluates bone, CT-scan is rarely needed and provides a large dose of radiation. MRI can evaluate bone and soft tissue but is time consuming, costly, and does not always tell the entire picture. Ultrasound, however, is quick, easily performed in the office, provides immediate information, more cost-effective, safer, is much more sensitive and has a higher resolution which is great for musculoskeletal evaluation. Another added benefit of ultrasound is that it is dynamic, meaning we are interacting with you while moving and evaluating your tissues. In doing so we can confirm that the findings are actually a pain generator for you. In some instances, an X-ray or MRI may be ordered to further evaluate some of the deeper structures, but this is not frequently needed.
Ultrasound Increases Safety and Accuracy of Treatments
We also use this ultrasound technology to accurately guide our injections to precisely place the needle and substance being used to treat the injury or source of pain/dysfunction, increasing the effectiveness of treatment. The use of ultrasound guidance also provides increased safety measures because we can visualize the nerves, arteries, and vital organs.
The New Standard of Care in Sports Medicine
Ultrasound has been effectively and widely used in obstetrics and cardiology for decades and is essentially a staple and considered standard of care during pregnancy. With advancement in technology, these machines that were once so large that they filled a room, now look much like a laptop computer. The advantage of using diagnostic ultrasound for musculoskeltal evaluation is that it provides a much clearer picture of tissue health, improves accuracy and safety during injections, allows for easy monitoring during recovery, saves time and money, and improves patient outcomes. At Alliance Regen & Rehab in St Petersburg, FL musculoskeletal ultrasound is an essential component to and standard of care in the evaluation and treatment of pain and dysfunction.