Three days a week – Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday – Stevens Point Orthopedics offers 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?
An MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to take images of structures and organs inside your body. During an MRI, 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?
Your provider may want an MRI for many reasons, including helping locate the source of your pain and examining 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
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 ensure you meet the standards for having an MRI performed.
Anyone who has the following will not be able to have an MRI:
- Heart pacemaker
- Cochlear implant or 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 technician will position you on the scanning table. You may be placed head-first or feet-first into the scanner, depending on the body part being scanned. You will be given earplugs to help muffle the knocking sound caused by electricity being passed through the magnetic coil, and will need to lie as still as possible to prevent the images from blurring. Occasionally, patients may be given an injection to enhance the clarity of some images. The tech will monitor you from an adjoining room where they can view the images.
The exam 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 MRIs, though you will need to remove all metallic objects, including 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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We use digital radiography to reduce patients’ time in the X-ray room and produce high-quality images. With digital X-rays, there’s no more waiting around for conventional radiographs, with their harsh chemicals and long wait times, or even the faster computed radiography, with their special plates and machinery. Within seconds of taking a digital X-ray, the signal is transmitted to a computer where the image appears. This lets the technician see the images immediately and decreases the patient’s radiology exam time.
What is radiography?
X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen and have become a crucial tool for physicians to diagnose and treat many medical conditions. X-ray machines are not new, but the technology that produces the images has evolved immensely. Conventional radiography uses chemicals and film in a dark room to produce a viewable image. Computed radiography eliminates harsh chemicals and working in the dark in favor of X-ray cassettes holding an imaging plate. The plate is inserted into an image reader, the 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. While similar to computed radiography in that images are viewed on a computer, digital radiography does away with the need to insert imaging plates into a reader and wait for images to appear. Instead, digital radiography sends a signal from the imaging detector directly to the computer.
What are X-rays?
X-rays are waves of electromagnetic radiation 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 – the taking of X-rays – is essentially using a special camera to take internal pictures of the body.
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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 issues and develop successful treatment plans. Stevens Point Orthopedics is pleased to provide MSK ultrasounds, giving us the opportunity to better serve you.
What is a Musculoskeletal Ultrasound?
An ultrasound uses special 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. Sound waves travel from the device to the internal structures and back to the machine, which measures the waves and creates a real-time digital picture of the body.
Other imaging techniques, like MRI and X-rays, are not 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’s 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. 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 wrist and elbow tendons. It’s also 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 diagnosed through 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 and allows continuous monitoring of the needle position, making for more precise injections.