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When Would I Need a Musculoskeletal Ultrasound?

Whether you’ve just suffered an injury, you suffer from chronic pain, or you’re undergoing joint treatment, your doctor may recommend a musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSKUS). Isn’t ultrasound used to evaluate soft organs and to monitor a developing baby?

If you’re not sure why you need an ultrasound or how it may help, we’ve put together some information about MSKUS to help you understand. 

Ultrasound is a minimally invasive diagnostic tool that uses sound waves to visualize the workings of your inner body. Here at Rheumatology Center of New Jersey, our expert team of rheumatologists uses state-of-the-art Sonosite M-Turbo® ultrasound imagers and transducers for MSKUS. 

How ultrasound works

Ultrasound bounces high-frequency sound waves off the structures inside your body that we want to evaluate. As the ultrasound waves hit your organs, they create echoes. A transducer attached to the M-Turbo emits the sound waves and then translates the echoes into visual images that it sends to a computer monitor.

Ultrasound is extremely safe because it emits sound waves into your body, instead of ionizing radiation. It’s so safe, in fact, that obstetricians routinely use ultrasound to monitor developing fetuses.

General ultrasound is used for organs, but MSKUS directs the diagnostic sound waves to your bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other structures in your musculoskeletal system. The M-Turbo MSKUS device is so simple that we can administer it in-office for real-time results or to guide treatment.

MSKUS for diagnosis

Joint pain can be complex and may have multiple causes. Some of the conditions that might require an MSKUS include:

With an MSKUS, we can see and evaluate:

We may ask you to bend and flex your joint in order to make an accurate diagnosis. We may also use MSKUS to guide a diagnostic procedure called arthrocentesis (aka joint aspiration), in which we remove synovial fluid from your joint to determine if you have gout, arthritis, or an infection.

MSKUS for treatments

After your diagnosis, we may use MSKUS to guide your treatment. The M-Turbo’s visualization capabilities allow us to see structures as small as blood vessels and nerves. We may use MSKUS while performing procedures such as:

Using MSKUS guidance allows us to be more precise when injecting nerves and other structures to minimize the risk for trauma and increase the effectiveness of treatment.

Advantage of MSKUS

You don’t have to sit or lie still for an MSKUS. We can move the small hand-held monitor and transducers near you and may ask you to move your joint while they’re evaluating the muscles, bones, and other supporting structures. 

Unlike other imaging techniques, MSKUS is safe to use if you have metal hardware in or around your joint, such as pins or a joint replacement. Because the M-Turbo is so small and portable, we may use it to evaluate multiple areas that could be contributing to your pain or disability. It’s also pain-free and has no side effects.

An MSKUS is less expensive than other advanced imaging studies, such as CTs and MRIs. We also get the results in real-time, instead of waiting for a technician to process the images. 

You don’t need any anesthetic when you get an MSKUS. It’s a fast and simple procedure that we perform in the comfort of your nearest Rheumatology Center of New Jersey location.

Find out what’s causing your joint pain and disability by contacting us by phone or online. Our offices are located in Somerville, Princeton, Flemington and Monroe, New Jersey.

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