Diagnostic Services

Discover the source of your pain with X-rays, Musculoskeletal Ultrasounds, and MRI's from Stevens Point Orthopedics.
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Treat your pain and discover the sources of your discomfort with diagnostic services from Stevens Point Orthopedics. Using X-rays, musculoskeletal ultrasounds, and MRIs, the professionals at Stevens Point Orthopedics will give you clarity on any lingering issues and offer treatment to get you back into your regular routine.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

An MRI can help your provider locatethe source of your pain.
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Three days a week – Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday – Stevens Point Orthopedics is proud to offer Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) certified by The Joint Commission and the American College of Radiology. Because an MRI produces images from any angle with great clarity, it provides a wealth of diagnostic information.

What is an MRI?

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. 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. MRI images 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?

An MRI can help your provider locate the source of your pain, but your provider may want to do an MRI for many reasons. The most common reason for performing an MRI in an orthopedic clinic is to help examine musculoskeletal issues. An MRI may help determine and diagnose:

  • 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
  • Infections

Can anyone have an MRI?

Due to the strong magnet in 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. You may be placed head-first or feet-first into the scanner, depending on 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. The exam generally lasts 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 your provider will review the results with you in a follow-up appointment.

How to prepare for an MRI

No special preparations are needed for MRI scans, though you will need to remove all metallic objects from your body prior to the MRI; this includes glasses, earrings, belts, and change. You should wear comfortable clothing that does not have zippers or snaps. You may continue taking any prescribed medications. On some occasions, patients are given a mild sedative to lessen claustrophobia-related anxiety.

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X-rays are waves of electromagnetic radiation which take internal pictures of your body.
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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 patient’s 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 eliminates harsh chemicals and working in the dark in favor of X-ray cassettes that hold an imaging plate which is inserted into an image reader. The image reader reads a barcode on the imaging plate, and a laser pulls the image off the plate. The result is an image that is viewable on a computer.

Digital radiography is a significant step forward from even computed radiography. While similar to computed radiography in that the resulting images are viewed on a computer, digital radiography does away with the need to insert imaging plates into an image reader and wait for 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 and 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 Ultrasound

Using sound waves that travel through your body to create a digital picture in real-time.
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Musculoskeletal issues affect millions of people worldwide, causing pain and decreasing quality of life. Musculoskeletal ultrasounds (MSK) give providers a powerful tool to help determine the real issues and develop successful treatment plans. 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 uses highly specialized electronics that generate 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 can only evaluate the body at rest. An ultrasound can capture movement and can even see blood flow through the vessels. This technology can be extremely useful to diagnose and treat many musculoskeletal issues. 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. 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. 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 an MSK ultrasound include:

  • Tendinitis and tendon tears
  • Muscle tears
  • Ligament tears
  • Inflammation or fluid within the bursae and joints
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Benign and malignant soft tissue tumors
  • Ganglion cysts
  • Hernias
  • 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 and allows for continuous monitoring of the needle position, making for more precise injections.

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