What is diagnostic ultrasound?
Diagnostic ultrasound is now the preferred choice of imaging for most musculoskeletal disorders. Superficial structures like tendons, muscles and joints can all be well visualised on an ultrasound scan.
Diagnostic ultrasound scans use high frequency sound waves to create detailed images of these structures which can then be used to assist in diagnosing and treating a range of conditions. Most people think of ultrasound in relation to pregnancy but it is used in many different areas of medicine.
Why is diagnostic ultrasound used in musculoskeletal health?
There are a number of reasons why diagnostic ultrasound is the preferred choice for imaging the musculoskeletal system:
- Safety – it is completely safe (the patient is exposed to high frequency sound waves which are totally harmless)
- Timely – it can be done during a consultation, so the patient can know the results/diagnosis there and then
- Quality – ultrasound scanners provide high quality and detailed images of musculoskeletal tissue making ultrasound the ‘go to’ choice
- Dynamic – using ultrasound whilst the patient is moving often provides more insight into the condition
- Cost effective – when compared to other imaging like MRI, ultrasound is very cost effective
Why are physios best placed to use diagnostic ultrasound?
Physiotherapists are already possess a detailed understanding of what’s causing musculoskeletal pain or disability from a robust clinical examination process. The added capability of diagnostic ultrasound enables the physiotherapist to probe further – to confirm their diagnosis, to assess the extent of the problem and to measure progress from treatment. Physios are not looking at just the image on the screen but blending this with their assessment of the whole patient which means we can get to the root of the problem quickly and start treatment without delay.
How diagnostic ultrasound has benefitted the clinic?
We invested in top notch equipment and training for one reason – our pursuit of gold standard care for our patients. Okay, we love innovation too and could see its potential to deliver better care for our patients. No more waits, we can offer immediate and definitive diagnostics through physical assessment and ultrasound. What’s more, the Doppler function in ultrasound enables us to see exactly where the inflammation is and target treatment such as Shockwave or injection therapy effectively. And that’s what we can offer now – uninterrupted care from the initial assessment and ultrasound diagnostics through to recovery.
Is ultrasound better than MRI?
Yes and no! The majority of the musculoskeletal system (muscles, tendons, joints, etc) is termed superficial or close to the skin and can be well visualised with ultrasound. Tissues can also be visualised during movement which is often a big help in identifying the at fault. Ultrasound is quicker, cheaper and more useful for identifying problems like rotator cuff & Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, muscle tears, Baker’s cyst and tennis elbow. However, MRI wins hands down with any kind of spinal problem and is better when a deeper image is required (e.g. hip joint).
How much does an ultrasound scan cost?
This varies from place to place. At The Physios we have a special, integrated service where principal physio Paul Hattam combines his physiotherapy consultation with diagnostic ultrasound. He then combines the physical findings with the results from the ultrasound scan to provide a firm diagnosis. This service presents exceptional value at just £75.