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Musculoskeletal Imaging

Musculoskeletal radiologists use all different types of imaging to diagnose injuries, infections, and tumors of the bones and joints, and the soft tissues that surround them. Musculoskeletal radiologists work closely with many other types of physicians including orthopedic surgeons, emergency medicine physicians, rheumatologists, oncologists, and neurosurgeons.

Musculoskeletal Imaging May be Used to

  • Diagnose or evaluate degenerative joint disorders
  • Investigate the cause of pain in the spine, joints, or muscles
  • Diagnose fractures, tears, or tumors within the bones or joints

Common Types of MSK Exams

MRI is the most common type of exam used in Musculoskeletal imaging because of the exceptional clarity and detail it provides. MRI is often used to help diagnose the cause of pain or discomfort in the area around a joint.

Fluoroscopy is a technique that allows a radiologist to view real-time images of the inside of the body. It can be used to diagnose certain conditions, or guide the placement of a needle for an injection or aspiration.

Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, also known as DEXA, is used to measure bone density, which helps doctors to diagnose Osteoporosis and Osteopenia. During the painless procedure, the patient lays flat on a table while the x-ray arm moves over the body. The whole procedure takes approximately 15 minutes. Most insurance plans, including Medicare, cover a DEXA scan if one or more Osteoporosis risk factors are present. Common risk factors for Osteoporosis include: over age 50, being female, family history of Osteoporosis, menopausal or post-menopausal, smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise.

Developed by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), provides more information about radiology tests, treatments and patient safety.