Ultrasound of musculoskeletal trauma

Author(s): Dr Kate Kingston

Hospital: York Teaching Hospitals

Reference: RAD Magazine, 40, 475, 11-12, 14


Dynamic ultrasound (US) assessment of musculoskeletal injuries is usually performed in the subacute setting. Ultrasound is used to evaluate the joints and periarticular soft tissues in patients presenting with pain, swelling, instability or functional loss. Referral indications predominantly involve injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments and subcutaneous tissues. Detection of foreign bodies, demonstration of occult fractures and assessment of chronic complications of trauma are also important.

Ultrasound is well tolerated across the patient population and is particularly useful in children and in patients with metallic hardware in situ or those with absolute or relative contra-indications to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Sonographic assessment is quick, with no radiation burden or need for sedation or general anaesthetic. During the dynamic examination, the operator can discuss the injury mechanism and observe active and passive movement of joints, ligaments and muscle-tendon complexes in order to obtain functional information.

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