What is a musculoskeletal ultrasound?
Musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasounds are an important tool in helping diagnose a variety of patient ailments. Like other ultrasounds, a transducer is used in the affected area to create real-time images. Often, dynamic movements are used while the technician is performing the ultrasound. These movements can be essential in reproducing the patients’ symptoms. The advantage of MSK ultrasound is that with dynamic movements, real-time images can capture very clear images of the affected area.
Frequently asked questions:
You may be prescribed an MSK ultrasound as it is either not possible to recreate the required images using other diagnostic imaging tools, or other imaging modalities are not recommended.
On the day of the test you should wear comfortable clothes, and you may be asked to change into a gown when you arrive at the ultrasound exam site. No special preparation is needed.
During an MSK ultrasound the sonographer may ask you to sit on the exam table, on a swivel chair, or lie face up or face down. The skin over the area to be examined will be covered with a small amount of gel and the sonographer will then glide the transducer over your skin to capture the images of the tissues below, which the transducer then sends to a computer.
During the ultrasound, you may be asked to move the joint or limb being examined in order to evaluate the function of the joint, muscle, ligament, or tendon.
An MSK ultrasound exam is typically painless and takes about 20-30 minutes to complete.
MSK ultrasounds do not provide any exposure to radiation as other tests may carry this risk. Patients may also experience slight discomfort while reproducing their symptoms during the procedure, or slight discomfort from the pressure of the transducer on the affected area.