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Diagnostic X-rays provide detailed information that the physician can use to determine the best approach to correct or control a medical problem. X-ray imaging is useful in seeing multiple views of the bones from various angles. X-rays can reveal fractures, bone irregularities, and can imply irregularities in the space between joints.
Southwest Spine & Sports, Scottsdale office has X-ray capabilities on site. This offers great convenience to our patients. X-rays are processed using digital imaging technology, which allows the technologist to reduce radiation exposure to the patient. Patients may take copies of their images on a compact disc (CD), and our facilities keep images stored on the PACS, a HIPAA compliant archiving and communications system. All films taken in office are read and interpreted by qualified radiologists.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI is an imaging machine that uses a large magnet, causing the body to release radio waves on an atomic level. With the help of a computer, this technique creates clear, detailed images of internal body structures, including bone, tissue (tissue surrounded by bone, as in the spine), nerves, organs, and blood vessels. Three dimensional images are assembled from a series of two-dimensional slices of the area being tested. These slices can be taken from almost any angle to represent the best possible view of the injured site, and may be enhanced by contrast dyes.
MRI technology is a useful tool for evaluating musculoskeletal injuries and neurologic diseases. It is ideal for acute injuries, as well as inflammatory and degenerative conditions. MRI images offer a higher resolution picture, as compared to x-rays, and does not require radiation.
Southwest Spine & Sports works closely with various imaging facilities around the valley in referring our patients for MRI. There are some facilities that offer “open” MRI for patients with claustrophobia. MRI may not be available to all patients, including those with pacemakers or stents, due to the strength of the magnetic force. An alternative is a CT Scan; which produces a slightly less detailed picture, and can only be run on a horizontal axis.
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
CT scans, a precise, painless, and fast radiographic technique, provides extremely accurate internal images of body structure at all depths. A computer converts multiple two-dimensional x-ray cross-sections into a three-dimensional image, which represents the injured body part by slices, rather than by a single flat image. Unlike MRI imaging, pacemakers and other medical devices inside the body are not a problem for CT scanning; however, CT Scans do expose the patient to minimal radiation, whereas MRIs do not.
In diagnosing our patients at Southwest Spine and Sports, CT Scans reveal structure of vertebrae, intervertebral discs, and the spinal cord, as well as small bones (as in the hand and foot) and surrounding tissues. Furthermore, these images may be enhanced by x-ray dyes to reveal structural relationships within the injured area. The scan can also clearly decipher bone and tissue density in evaluating such conditions as osteoporosis. There are many more uses for CT scans beyond the scope of physiatry, including diagnosis of cancer, brain conditions, and injuries to organs.
Ultrasound involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to create dynamic images of structures within the body. The use of this technique does not use any x-rays or magnets, making it possible for use by patients with metal within their body, without radiation.
By using ultrasound as a diagnostic tool, we are able to visualize real-time abnormalities within the extremities by seeing muscle function and identifying the area of pathology. Ultrasound technology is also useful in safe and painless needle guidance during injections within the joint for increased precision.
For a detailed and interactive look at what ultrasound technology can accomplish, please visit our Musculoskeletal Ultrasound page.