What are some common uses of the procedure?
Ultrasound images can be useful in diagnosing tendon tears, such as tears of the rotator cuff in the shoulder. Abnormalities of the muscles can also be seen such as tears and soft-tissue masses. Bleeding or other fluid collections within the muscles, bursae, and joints can also be detected. Please note that ultrasound has not proven useful in detecting whiplash injuries or other causes of back pain.
Tell me about Advanced Ultrasound Imaging, Inc.
AUI, since 1995, has been a leader in the world medical community in developing techniques, protocols, and methods related to Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Technology.
How should I prepare for the procedure?
You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your Ultrasound exam. No other preparation is required.
What does the equipment look like?
The equipment consists of a transducer and a monitoring system. The transducer is a small handheld device that resembles a microphone. The radiologist or sonographer spreads a lubricating gel on the area being examined and then presses this device firmly against the skin.
The US image is immediately visible on a nearby screen that looks much like a computer or television monitor. The radiologist or sonographer watches this screen during an examination; often, the patient is able to see it as well.
How does the procedure work?
Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used by bats, ships at sea, and anglers with fish detectors. As a controlled sound bounces against objects, its echoing waves can be used to identify how far away the object is, how large it is, and how uniform it is.
The ultrasound transducer functions as both a loudspeaker (to create the sounds) and a microphone (to record them). When the transducer is pressed against the skin, it directs a stream of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves echo from the bodyís fluids and tissues, the sensitive microphone in the transducer records tiny changes in the soundís pitch and direction. These signature waves are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor. The live images of the examination can be recorded on videotape. In addition, still frames of the moving picture are usually "frozen" to capture a series of images.
How is the procedure performed?
The patient is positioned on an examination table that can tilt and move. A clear gel is applied to the area that will be examined. The gel helps the transducer make a secure contact and eliminates air pockets between the transducer and the skin, since the sound waves cannot penetrate air. The radiologist then presses the transducer firmly against the skin and sweeps it back and forth to image the area of interest, reviewing the images on the monitor and capturing "snapshots" as required.
When the examination is complete, the patient may be asked to dress. Often, though, the sonographer or radiologist is able to review the ultrasound images in real time as they are acquired, and the patient can be released immediately.
What will I experience during the procedure?
Most ultrasound studies are relatively quick and well tolerated by the patient. If scanning performed over an area of tenderness, there there may be minor pain associated with the procedure. Otherwise the procedure is painless. You will be either lying or sitting on an examining table that may be tilted or moved to provide access to the area that will be imaged. The sonographer or radiologist will spread some gel on your skin and then press the transducer firmly against your body, moving it until the desired images are captured. Most exams take 45 minutes or less.
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
A radiologist, who is a physician experienced in ultrasound and other radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report with his or her interpretation to the patientís personal physician. The personal physician's office will inform the patient on how to obtain their results. New technology also allows for distribution of diagnostic reports and referral images over the Internet at some facilities.
What are the benefits vs. risks?
- Our test is dynamic, rather than static. In other words, when taking an MRI the limb or joint being scanned must remain motionless and therefore some conditions cannot be revealed. With our Musculoskeletal Ultrascan, you are asked to move the joint or limb in question, and we can see the muscles, tendons and ligaments in motion, thereby revealing conditions not necessarily otherwise visible.
- Ultrasound imaging is a painless, low-cost examination.
- Ultrasound is widely available and easy to use.
- Ultrasound imaging uses no radiation.
- Ultrasound provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and aspiration of fluid in joints or elsewhere.
- Ultrasound scanning is painless and noninvasive.
- Unlike the strong magnetic field of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), ultrasound is not affected by ferromagnetic implants or fragments within the body.
- Ultrasound may actually have advantages over MRI in seeing tendon structure which is better appreciated by ultrasound than MRI.
What are the limitations of Ultrasound imaging of the Musculoskeletal System?
- For standard diagnostic ultrasound there are no known harmful effects to humans.
Ultrasound has difficulty penetrating bone and therefore can only see the outer surface of bony structures and not what lies within. For visualizing bone or internal structure of certain joints, waves do not reflect clearly from bone or air. For visualization of bone, other imaging modalities, such as MRI, should be selected.