Recent advances in high-resolution ultrasound imaging present new opportunities for improving the care of patients with musculoskeletal injuries. Ultrasound uses sound waves to provide real-time, high-resolution images of tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves throughout the body. Ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of a small transducer (probe) and ultrasound gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves are transmitted from the probe through the gel into the body. The transducer collects the sounds that bounce back and a computer then uses those sound waves to create an image. Ultrasound examinations do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays), thus there is no radiation exposure to the patient. Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels. Ultrasound images are typically used to help diagnose:

  • tendon tears, or tendinitis of the Achilles tendon in the ankle and other tendons throughout the foot
  • muscle tears, masses or fluid collections
  • ligament sprains or tears
  • inflammation or fluid (effusions) within the bursae and joints
  • early changes of rheumatoid arthritis
  • nerve entrapments such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • benign and malignant soft tissue tumors
  • ganglion cysts
  • hernias
  • foreign bodies in the soft tissues (such as splinters or glass)