When you see your doctor for musculoskeletal pain, they may request imaging tests to get a good look at what could be causing your symptoms, to determine the underlying cause, and to give you an accurate diagnosis. The two most commonly used image-guided diagnostic tools are the ultrasound and the MRI. How does a doctor choose between MRI and ultrasound? There are key differences between MRI and ultrasound, which determine affect why one is better for you to get done than the other.
MRI versus Ultrasound
Both image-guided diagnostic tools allow doctors to look at what’s inside the body in different ways. MRIs rely on magnets to produce 3D images of the inner structures of the body. It can highlight tissue changes in the body that indicate an injury. An ultrasound, on the other hand, uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the body’s inner organs and structures. Both imaging techniques can highlight injuries with great detail, sometimes down to the individual fibers of a muscle, which makes them perfect diagnostic tools for suspected ligament tears and a host of other injuries.
When To Get an Ultrasound
An ultrasound can be used on the exact site of pain and can create a clear picture of what’s causing it as well as the extent of the damage. With an ultrasound, a doctor can also view what happens during movement, which makes it very dynamic. An ultrasound can produce live images of soft tissues, which is very useful in detecting issues with muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue. Tears, abnormal growths and movements, tumors, and calcifications can be seen in an ultrasound. However, bone and air do not show up so well. An ultrasound is also commonly used to guide physicians in certain applications such as for injecting steroids for pain relief.
Unlike an MRI machine, the ultrasound is less intimidating for the patient since it only makes use of a transducer and a screen that shows live images of the internal structures. It is also used in other medical scenarios, such as tracking the growth of a fetus.
When To Get an MRI
While ultrasound can produce dynamic images of the soft tissues in your musculoskeletal system, there are instances that call for an MRI. For example, an ultrasound cannot show actual structures, only soft tissues. For larger areas of soft tissues, joints, bones, muscles, or cartilage, an MRI is a better diagnostic tool. If the doctor needs a detailed look of the entire arm, hand, or ankle, they typically order an MRI. An MRI can detect inflammation, tumors, congenital abnormalities, herniations, or degeneration. It’s also used to ascertain the effectiveness of treatment and continuous monitoring of disease. Finally, MRIs are also used to detect injuries and conditions with bones, such as fractures.
Patients with implanted devices, such as pacemakers, need to take extra precautions when it comes to MRIs.
MRI and Ultrasound Diagnostic Imaging in Naples, Florida
Before you can receive treatment for your orthopedic condition, you need a proper diagnosis. At the Joint Replacement Institute, you are in good hands. We work diligently to maintain a positive atmosphere in our comfortable facility in Naples.
If you have questions about the conditions we treat or our on-site services and products, call the Joint Replacement Institute at (239) 261-2663 or request an appointment now. Our friendly staff looks forward to helping you!