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Ultasound Examination of the Foot and Ankle

Written By: Matthew Rockett, D.P.M. Editor, PodiatryNetwork.com

Description

Musculoskeletal ultrasonography is a very powerful diagnostic tool for the diagnosis of wide array of foot and ankle problems. Your physician may order an ultrasound or perform the ultrasound in their office to help diagnose your foot problem. Ultrasound is used typically for soft tissue problem, not bone conditions. Some of the foot disorders that ultrasound is used for are the following:

  1. Foreign bodies
  2. Morton's neuroma
  3. Soft tissue masses
  4. Bursitis or capsulitis of the joints
  5. Ligament injuries
  6. Tendonitis or tendon tears
  7. Heel spurs or plantar fasciitis
  8. Tarsal tunnel syndrome
  9. Ultrasound guided injection or aspirations

What is Ultrasound? Most people know about ultrasound to image a baby or a gallbladder, but it has growing application in musculoskeletal disorders. Ultrasound is based on sound waves. Sound waves are emitted from a transducer probe that is applied to the body and these sound waves will past into the body and then are reflected back to the transducer probe to be recorded. The recorded image is based on the density of the object that the sound waves encounter. An object with a high density appears white or brighter on the recorded image, while objects of low density will appear black or dark on the image. Intermediate densities will appear gray. The sound waves are recorded back to the machine, which will produce the image. This image will appear on the computer screen and is recorded permanently either by a hard copy film or video tape (if available) or both. A radiologist or your doctor will read these images and write a report on their findings.

Ultrasound is completely safe and painless. It also has no contraindications. There is no problem in having the examination if you are pregnant, have a pacemaker, or other medical conditions that may prevent you from having a MRI or CT scan. Ultrasound also does not produce any radiation as with a CT scan or x-rays.

In preparing for the examination, you can eat and take your normal medications. The examination will take from 45 minutes to an hour based on the area being scanned. It is advised that you bath the day of the examination but avoid the use of any skin lotions or emollients. Also you should where loose fitting clothing or shorts to make it easier to perform the examination. Your physician will discuss the results with you. If you have any further questions regarding why this test was ordered for you, please ask your physician.

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