Musculoskeletal Ultrasound is a key component in the assessment and diagnosis of numerous complaints related to connective and soft tissue as described in the article Ultrasound Specialists. Musculoskeletal ultrasound is often better at depicting small structures such as ligament and tendon tears in the hands and fingers as well as soft-tissue foreign bodies that don’t show up well on X-rays or with MRI.
It is also a faster and more cost effective way to diagnose rotator cuff tears and biceps tendon problems. It provides excellent guidance during procedures involving the insertion of a needle into a joint, tendon sheath or bursa to provide drainage or precisely deliver medication.
Limitations of Musculoskeletal Ultrasound
Musculoskeletal ultrasound is limited in that it does not penetrate bone to any usable extent and therefore can only show the exterior surface of bony structures. The extensive presence of cartilage in infants does allow for musculoskeletal scanning of bony areas, however. Cartilage surrounding the hip and shoulder sockets is also hard to scan because of its proximity to bone. Bone tumors and other solid masses must be assessed using other methods, and even soft tissue tumors are better evaluated using MRI. Furthermore, ultrasound is not helpful in diagnosing whiplash and other types of back pain.