Musculoskeletal (MSK) Imaging
MSK Imaging Is More than Just X-Ray Vision
Musculoskeletal (MSK) imaging focuses on the proper diagnosis and pinpointing of the source of pain from injuries and diseases that affect the skeleton, muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons. MSK disorders are extremely common and affect all age groups. Pain experienced from a MSK disorder can range from mild discomfort to debilitating and life-altering pain. Because of the way the brain processes pain, diagnosis can be very difficult during a clinical examination alone. MSK imaging provides invaluable “inside” information as to what is going on in your body that may be causing you pain and discomfort.
Most MSK disorders occur when muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons are asked to work harder, stretch farther, twist repeatedly or function more aggressively than your body can handle. With repeated use, the problem worsens and the pain can be life-altering. By using different MSK imaging technologies, EPIC’s team, headed by Dr. Michael Pearson, is able to identify the precise area of injury or disease so that an effective treatment plan can be developed.
Since musculoskeletal disorders can affect all parts of the body, having a variety of imaging options is very important. Early diagnosis is also important so the injury or condition can be treated before it gets worse. EPIC Imaging is proud to service the Portland metro area by offering a variety of diagnostic imaging technologies so that we can give more information to your doctor and get you feeling better as quickly as possible.
Digital radiography is a fast and simple way to document everything from broken bones to injured backs. An arthrogram is a diagnostic procedure used to examine the structure and functionality of joints. It is commonly used in the diagnosis of joint pain, joint swelling, cartilage injuries or tears and sports medicine evaluations of joint injuries.
What to Expect: During your arthrogram, the radiologist will take several images of your painful joint and will inject contrast material into the joint space to better view the internal structure of the joint. The needle will be removed as soon as the injection is done and you will be asked to move the joint so the contrast can work itself around the joint area. The radiologist will be watching the contrast move around the joint space while taking images. The arthogram should take 30-45 minutes.
After the Exam: Overall, you may have experienced a slight amount of pain from the needle as it entered your skin. The contrast used within the joint may give you a feeling of “tightness” or swelling, however this is temporary and should be completely gone within 1-2 days. The contrast is water-soluble and will be absorbed and flushed naturally through your urinary system.
For MSK, the flexibility of ultrasound provides a real-time view of effects of movement on the structures of joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and soft tissue throughout the body. At EPIC, we use ultrasound to diagnose tears, sprains, strains, soft tissue tumors, hernias, and more.
What to Expect: You will receive detailed preparation instructions, if any, when you schedule your ultrasound appointment.
Ultrasound is painless, completely non-invasive and uses no radiation. Your ultrasound should take between 30 and 60 minutes. The technologist will use some pre-warmed gel on your skin to create contact with the wand in the area of concern. The technologist will move the wand (transducer) back and forth over multiple areas to create very detailed images of the area for evaluation and diagnosis.
After the Exam: You should be able to return to work or your normal activities right after the exam.
CT plays an important role in diagnosing a wide variety of MSK abnormalities. EPIC Imaging features the most advanced, ultra-fast CT technology available. With this technology, we are able to scan the entire torso in one breath-hold to improve patient comfort greatly. CT is particularly effective on bony structures and gives great detail for organ or tumor measurement.
What to Expect: You will be given specific preparation instructions prior to your CT scan, depending on the nature of your scan.
You will receive an injection of a contrast agent prior to your CT scan through an IV in your arm. You will be resting on a sliding table which will move through the CT machine’s rotating tube that captures the images. You will be alone in the room, however, the technologist will be speaking to you through the exam and you will be able to speak to him/her. The CT scan itself is very fast. You will be asked to hold your breath during the scanning for a brief moment of time.
After the Exam: There are no side effects to the CT and you can return to work or normal activity immediately.
MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to evaluate for musculoskeletal conditions or injuries such as abnormalities of the spinal discs or joints, and sports and work-related injuries caused by repetitive strain, impact or vibration. MRI is a great option if the cause of pain is a suspected soft-tissue problem like damage of a ligament or tendon inside the knee joint or a tumor involving soft tissues around the joints and extremities.
What to expect: If there are any specific instructions for preparation for your MRI, EPIC Imaging will provide you with that information at the time of scheduling.
If you have any implanted medical devices, such as a pacemaker, artificial joint, defibrillator or drug port, you may not be able to have an MRI and your clinicians will discuss with you an alternative exam.
Prior to your MRI, you may receive an injection of a contrast agent through an IV line in your arm to enhance the appearance of tissues or blood vessels in the images. During the MRI you will be alone in the room, however, the technologist will be monitoring you from another room close by and will be able to speak to you and hear you through a microphone. You may hear loud tapping noises coming from the machine; however, MRI is completely painless and does not use radiation. The MRI should last 30-60 minutes.
After your exam: You should be able to return to work or your normal activities right after your MRI.
A Bone Mineral Density scan (BMD) is the most accurate way to measure bone density and determine a patient’s risk for osteoporosis. It is also called a DEXA scan. Osteoporosis is a very serious disease in which bones become so weak they can break with a simple bump or fall. This simple, painless procedure is our best tool for early diagnosis and treatment.
BMD/DEXA Scan preparation and what to expect: Because this exam is so simple, you will not need to prepare ahead of time. While lying down, a camera will be moved above you and x-ray images will be taken of the hip and lower spine where fractures are most likely to occur. The amount of x-ray dose is very small, equal to about 10% of that received from a chest x-ray. The entire exam will take only 10-20 minutes.
After the exam: There are no side effects to the exam and you may return to work or normal activity immediately.