What is Ultrasound Imaging of the Musculoskeletal System?
Ultrasound imaging is used to diagnose many medical conditions and diseases. An ultrasound machine works with a probe that sends sound waves into the appropriate part of the body. The waves bounce off the internal structures and return to the probe. How fast and how many waves return to the probe converts into data for the CPU to use. The computer analyzes and interprets the data, and then, it produces an image. The ultrasound technician and doctor review the image to make a diagnosis. Obstetricians use ultrasound in prenatal care to monitor the growth and health of the baby, but there are other uses for the technology, such as for the musculoskeletal system.
The human body’s musculoskeletal system allows us to move. It provides support, stability, and movement within the body. The system consists of the muscles, skeleton, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and any other connective tissue that binds and holds organs and tissues together. This system is vital for ambulatory movement. Without it, we would be sedentary creatures incapable of movement.
So, what is ultrasound imaging of the musculoskeletal system? The clinical definition states, “Musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSK US) involves the use of high-frequency (up to 17 MHz) sound waves to image soft tissues and bony structures in the body for the purposes of diagnosing pathology or guiding real-time interventional procedures.” Just like any other part of the body, your musculoskeletal system can suffer from an injury or disease.
Disorders of the musculoskeletal system vary in severity and location. There are bones, muscles, and tendons all over our body, so any one of them can sustain an injury. Diseases can also happen anywhere in the body. Most often, physical pain will tell you if there’s something wrong. Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, ligament sprain, herniated disc, and rotator cuff tendonitis are all examples of disorders within this system. Professional athletes, specifically, benefit from this type of ultrasound. The wear and tear they subject themselves to slowly breaks down the body. The repetitive motions of any sport start to wear down the joints and muscles over time.
Medical professionals use ultrasound to check the severity of a muscle or tendon tear. Rather than cutting open an area on the body to look at an injury, ultrasound lets the doctor see what’s wrong in a noninvasive way. Machines such as the GE Voluson help doctors use ultrasound imaging to diagnose their patients.