Boyd W. Haynes III, MD
You are probably familiar with the use of Ultrasound in medicine. Many couples have had an ultrasound taken of their child in-utero so that they could find out if their baby was developing normally and know its gender. This is important, otherwise how would they plan their baby’s gender reveal party and what color cupcakes to serve?
All joking aside, ultrasound is a very important diagnostic tool used in many areas of medicine, including Cardiology, Obstetrics and Gynecology. We use ultrasound in Orthopaedics as well, for many diagnostic purposes, but also to provide guidance when we do injections into joints, tendons and ligaments.
Ultrasound for Diagnostics
Ultrasound, or Sonography, can be a very effective diagnostic tool for Orthopaedic Physicians, as the technology has improved greatly and allows for much higher image resolution. Soft tissues that cannot be seen on x-ray, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints, can be visualized easily. It is also helpful for detecting foreign bodies or abnormal growths, such as tumors or calcifications. Ultrasound can also be used to measure the bone health and density of a patient. We utilize a portable, ultrasonic bone densitometer at OSC for health fairs being held in the area, so we can increase awareness of the importance of bone health in the community.
There are other benefits when using Sonography as a diagnostic tool, including:
- Real-time assessment of patient pathology
- Very low cost, compared to an MRI or CT scan
- Non-invasive, zero radiation exposure for patient
- Not painful for the patient
- Easily accessible, portable equipment
- No worry about patient claustrophobia
- Patient can be positioned comfortably during the brief exam
- Can be used safely on patients with pacemakers or other metal implants
In the next article, I will discuss the use of Ultrasound for Injection Guidance and its importance in getting medication exactly where it needs to be for optimal healing and relief of inflammation and pain.