What You Need to Know About Musculoskeletal Ultrasound?

Elderly Woman Suffering From Pain In Knee. Tendon Problems And Joint Inflammation On Dark Background.

Your musculoskeletal system is made up of bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and other types of cartilage. All of these work together to provide support and stability to the body while allowing different kinds of movements. When injuries or deformities impact your body’s form or functioning, musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSK) can help your doctor uncover the underlying problem. At Intermountain Medical Imaging, we are a leading provider of MSK and other types of ultrasound testing in the Treasure Valley. Find out more about this procedure and why a doctor may order it for you.

What Is a Musculoskeletal Ultrasound?

Ultrasound imaging is a non-invasive procedure that uses sophisticated equipment to view various body parts and how they work and interact with others. Your radiologist uses a transducer[1], which is a type of hand-held device, to send high-frequency sound waves into various areas. As these sound waves bounce off organs and other inner body structures, they are sent to a computer, which translates them into moving images and displays them on a monitor. Radiologists then interpret the information provided by these images, passing their findings and onto your doctor, who can then develop a treatment plan.

Many people are familiar with ultrasound through testing conducted during pregnancy, which provides photos and moving images of the developing baby. In contrast, musculoskeletal ultrasound is often referred to as an MSK ultrasound, and focuses specifically on muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and soft tissue, helping to detect a variety of disorders.

When Does a Doctor Order an MSK?

MSK offers a safe and painless way for doctors to diagnose different types of injuries and chronic medical conditions. In addition to allowing our radiologists to identify underlying causes in areas causing you pain, it also helps us and your doctor see how these areas may be impacting movement or organs in other parts of the body. Common types of conditions in which your doctor may order a musculoskeletal ultrasound include:

  • Soft tissue injuries, such as muscle, tendon, and ligament sprains, strains, or tears which occur as a result of sports, recreational activities, or accidents;
  • Chronic conditions resulting from inflammation or overuse, such as tendonitis and bursitis;
  • Problems involving compression of specific nerves, such as carpal tunnel syndrome;
  • Arthritis and other types of inflammation;
  • Joint dislocations and damage to the bursae, the sac-like cavities that provide cushioning;
  • Hernias, in which body organs push through muscles or other tissues holding them in place;
  • Muscle masses and cysts;
  • Tumors, which may prove to be benign or malignant.

Medical providers most likely to order an MSK[2] through Intermountain Medical Imaging include internal medicine and family practice doctors, rheumatologists, and orthopedic surgeons.

What to Expect During an MSK at Intermountain Medical Imaging

Based on referrals from your doctor, our staff at Intermountain Medical Imaging will schedule your musculoskeletal ultrasound with one of our highly trained and skilled radiologists. On the day of your appointment, you will be warmly greeted and led to one of our comfortable examining rooms, which contains the ultrasound equipment and the video monitor on which images will be projected. It is generally a good idea to wear loose clothing and leave any jewelry at home during your visit.

Depending on your condition, you will likely be asked to lie on your back. The radiologist will apply a gel to your skin, which helps to transmit the sound waves. You will be instructed to lie still as they run the transducer over the areas requested by your doctor and any other locations likely impacted.

An MSK ultrasound is an entirely painless procedure and can generally be conducted in as little as 15 minutes. Afterward, you may return to work with no disruptions of your normal activities. However, be mindful of any prior restrictions your doctor may have put in place. Generally, the medical provider who referred you for your exam provides a follow-up visit within several weeks. At this time, they will go over the results with you and may confirm your diagnosis, recommend a course of treatment, or request additional types of testing be conducted.

Why Schedule my Exam at Intermountain Medical Imaging (IMI)?

At Intermountain Medical Imaging, we have been a trusted provider of radiology services in the Treasure Valley community for more than 20 years. For patients requiring a musculoskeletal ultrasound, we make it our goal to provide you with the highest standards of service while relying on the latest and most advanced technology. To find out if MSK ultrasound is right for you, talk to your healthcare provider.  To request a price quote on an MSK ultrasound, contact our IMI offices online or call us today.



[1] https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=musculous

[2] https://www.ajronline.org/doi/full/10.2214/AJR.17.18591

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