Stevens Point Orthopedics is proud to offer Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that is certified by both The Joint Commission (TJC) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) three days per week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Because MRI produces images from any angle with great clarity, it provides a wealth of diagnostic information.
What is an MRI?
The use of an MRI can assist your provider in locating the source of your pain. The MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to take images of structures and organs inside your body. During an MRI test, the area being studied is placed inside the MRI machine which holds a strong magnet. Radio waves are sent through your body causing the atoms in your body to send out their own signal. The signal is picked up by the scanner and a computer turns this signal into images on a computer. The images from the MRI machine are digital, so they can be viewed and stored on a computer. The images can also be viewed remotely, such as in the operating room or in an office exam room.
Why is it done?
Your provider may want to do an MRI for many reasons. MRI scans are useful to orthopaedic providers but can be performed virtually on any body part to determine different pathologies. The most common reason for performing an MRI in an orthopaedic clinic help further examine musculoskeletal issues. An MRI may be completed for determining and diagnosing the following:
- Rotator cuff injuries in the shoulder
- Knee pain caused by a torn meniscus, ACL, PCL or other soft tissue pathology
- Bone tumors/cancers
- Causes of sports injuries
Can anyone have an MRI?
Due to the strong magnet that makes up an MRI scanner, people with implanted devices or metal in their body cannot have an MRI. Prior to your MRI, a medical staff member will go over a safety questionnaire with you to assure you meet the standards of having an MRI performed. Anyone who has the following will not be able to have an MRI:
- Heart pacemaker
- Cochlear implant (an internal hearing aid)
- Metal hearing implants
- Metal surgical implants (metal rods, clips, plates, or pins)
- Surgical implants to stop bleeding in the brain
- Metal shrapnel
- Any metal that is susceptible to the MRI’s magnetic field
- Women in their first 12 weeks of pregnancy
What to expect during your MRI
A technologist will position you on the scanning table. Depending on the body part being scanned, you may be placed either head-first or feet-first into the scanner. This is determined by whichever position allows the body part of interest to be centered in the magnet. You will also be given earplugs to help muffle the knocking sound caused by the electricity being passed through the magnetic coil. You will need to lie as still as possible, to prevent the images from becoming blurred. The technologist will be monitoring you from an adjoining room where they can view the images. Occasionally, patients may be given an injection to enhance the clarity of some images. On average, the exam will last about 30 minutes. The time may vary depending on the body part being scanned. After your scan, your study will be read by a radiologist and a follow-up exam with your provider will be scheduled to review the results.
How to prepare for an MRI
No special preparations are needed for MRI scans. All metallic objects are removed from the body prior to the MRI scan such as glasses, earrings, belts, change, etc. You should wear comfortable clothing that does not have any zippers or snaps. You may continue taking any prescribed medications. On some occasions, patients are given a mild sedative to lessen any claustrophobic-related anxiety.
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Here at Stevens Point Orthopedics, we use digital radiography for our patients’ x-rays. This decreases the patients’ time in the x-ray room and produces high-quality x-rays in an instant. No more waiting around for conventional radiographs which include chemicals and long wait times to produce images or even the slightly slower computed radiography which uses a machine to read the images off of special imaging plates. Within seconds of taking an x-ray, the signal is transmitted to a computer where the image appears. This allows the technologist to see the images immediately and decreases the patients’ radiology exam.
What is Radiography?
X-rays were first discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen and have since become a crucial tool for physicians to diagnose and treat a vast number of medical conditions. X-ray machines are not new but the technology that produces the resulting images has evolved immensely. Conventional radiography involves using chemicals and film in a dark room in order to produce a viewable image. Computed radiography (CR) eliminates the use of harsh chemicals and working in the dark. Computed radiography uses special x-ray cassettes that hold an imaging plate (IP) which get inserted into an image reader (IR). The image reader then reads a barcode on the imaging plate and a laser light is used to pull the image off of the plate. The result is an image that is viewable on a computer. This technology was a huge leap in radiography.
When we did not think anything more convenient or efficient could be invented in terms of radiography, digital radiography was introduced. Digital radiography (DR) is similar to computed radiography in that the resulting images are viewed on a computer but without having to insert imaging plates into an image reader and wait for the images to appear. Digital radiography sends a signal from the imaging detector directly to the computer, eliminating the time it takes to scan the imaging plate and wait for the image processor to create an image.
What are x-rays?
X-rays are waves of electromagnetic radiation which are similar to visible light. A machine produces the x-rays, emits them out of the machine and they penetrate the body. The remaining energy is transferred to either a traditional photo film or to a digital imaging detector. As the electromagnetic waves hit the body, they penetrate the structures at different rates. For example, x-rays have a harder time completely penetrating through bone causing bones to show up white on an image, while soft tissues show up gray on an image because it penetrates more easily. In simple terms, radiography is essentially using a special camera to take internal pictures of the body.
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Musculoskeletal pain affects millions of people throughout the world. Conditions of the musculoskeletal structures can cause more than just pain. Often, patients will experience a decrease in quality of life because the pain limits their everyday activities. The use of musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSK) gives providers a powerful tool to help determine the real issues and develop treatment plans that bring success. Stevens Point Orthopedics is pleased to provide our patients with MSK ultrasounds, giving us the opportunity to better serve you.
What is a Musculoskeletal Ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a procedure in which highly specialized electronics use sound waves to create images of different structures within the body. A small handheld device is used with a gel and placed directly on the skin. The sound waves travel from the device to the internal structures and back to the machine. The machine measures the sound waves and creates a digital picture that shows a real-time view of the body. Other imaging techniques (like an MRI) are not in real-time and are only able to evaluate the body at rest. An ultrasound can also capture movement and even see the blood flow through the blood vessels. This technology can be extremely useful to diagnose and then treat many issues of the musculoskeletal system. This ability to capture the movement of musculoskeletal components differentiates it from other imaging modalities and can permit more accurate diagnoses.
There are a few limitations to ultrasounds. The sound waves from an ultrasound can only go so deep into the body. Bone does not reflect sound waves, so an ultrasound is only helpful for more superficial structures in the body. It is not particularly useful for evaluating the inside of the knee like the meniscus or the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). It is, however, very useful for tendons of the wrist or elbow. It is also easily portable, which allows for point-of-care application and interpretation.
What Is It Used For?
An MSK ultrasound is a safe and effective method of evaluating a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions. It uses no radiation and requires no special preparation. The test is typically completed in about 20 minutes. Common conditions that are diagnosed through the use of an MSK ultrasound include:
- Tendinitis and tendon tears
- Inflammation or fluid within the bursae and joints
- Carpal Tunnel
- Benign and malignant soft tissue tumors
- Ganglion cysts
- Many other conditions
MSK ultrasounds are also very useful when providing injections in the course of a treatment plan. An Ultrasound Guided Injection (UGI) is a procedure that allows image-guided needle localization to an exact tissue or structure. This improves the accuracy of treatment by using the real-time images. Continuous monitoring of the needle position is possible, which makes for more precise injections.