Many of the diagnostic tools currently available have historically made accurately diagnosing knee injuries a challenge.
Traditionally, X-ray images have been used to diagnose some knee injuries and conditions—however, such testing exposes patients to potentially harmful radiation. In addition, X-rays are only able to detect bone injuries—thereby leaving out any muscles, cartilage, and other joint structures that may be causing knee pain.
When a soft tissue problem is suspected, an MRI is often required. An MRI is an excellent tool to detect a myriad of problems, but is not without its own drawbacks.
MRIs tend to be very expensive, even with insurance coverage. They are also a relatively lengthy procedure, in which the patient must lay completely still in a large tube for about an hour. This is a particular challenge for those suffering from claustrophobia. MRIs also can’t be performed on people with metal in their bodies—such as metal joint prostheses, pacemakers, or artificial heart valves.
How can doctors correctly diagnose knee pain and injuries without great financial cost to the patient, or potentially harmful radiation exposure?
Fortunately, such a tool does exist. Ultrasound is quickly becoming Reflex’s preferred method for knee diagnostic testing, as it is less expensive and less invasive than X-Ray and MRI. Ultrasound allows the knee to be examined dynamically—so features like the meniscus or tendons can be observed in motion. It also has no detrimental side effects, which means ultrasound diagnostic tests can be performed as frequently as necessary.
Ultrasound can be used to detect:
- Ligament damage
- Joint effusion
- Meniscal tears
- Cartilage thickness
- Bakers cysts
Fortunately, this examination can be easily performed during a regular visit to the Reflex office. Patients simply sit on an exam table while the physician utilizes a mobile, external probe (transducer). Our physicians are then able to diagnose and discuss treatment options, all during the very first visit.