Ultrasonography is a diagnostic and evaluation modality that has been used in medicine since the mid-1900s, although the physics of ultrasound were initially considered in the late 1800s. In recent years, ultrasound use has become more popular for sports medicine and surgical procedures, among other functions.
Unlike MRI’s and X-Rays, ultrasounds have the unique ability to provide a safer, more comfortable environment for the patient, free of radiation, while still providing effective and useful information to the operator and physician in charge.
While the sophistication and development of ultrasound technology continues to grow rapidly, there are still restraints, limitations, and disadvantages of this interventional modality.
In what follows, we’ll be discussing what a sports ultrasound is, why and how it’s used in a medical context, and its advantages & disadvantages, among other things.
What is a Sports Ultrasound?
A sports ultrasound, or more specifically a musculoskeletal ultrasound, is a non-invasive imaging and evaluation tool that uses sound waves to identify specific body regions and aid in the diagnosis of an injury or condition.
Ultrasound use, in general, is wide-ranging, with applications in medical fields such as obstetrics, general surgery, gynecology, orthopedics, and urology.
In the context of sports medicine, ultrasounds are of primary benefit when it comes to sport-related injuries such as ligament or tendon tears, dislocations, tendonitis, fractures, sprains, and ruptures because of its ability to effectively scan structures with high accuracy and resolution.
This makes it an incredibly effective tool for evaluating injuries of the ankle, hip, leg, and shoulder.
The prevalence of ultrasound use in sports medicine has grown in recent years due to the many obvious benefits for the athlete and its potential to reduce healthcare costs drastically.
As mentioned, however, this innovative technology does come with some limitations. The following information will discuss ultrasound use and its advantages and disadvantages.
Sports Ultrasound Uses
Ultrasound in the context of sports medicine is a diagnostic technology that is especially beneficial due to its ability to evaluate musculoskeletal structures non-invasively.
Ultrasound has been used by physicians to examine fluid surrounding structures that may indicate tendonitis, for example. It can also be used to evaluate range of motion functionality and evaluate possible bone fractures.
Outside of its diagnostic utilization, ultrasounds can also be an effective visualization tool during certain medical procedures, such as proper localization of injection sites for medications such as steroids. This improved visualization is much safer for the patient and more accurately treats the condition.
It can also be utilized in joint aspiration, which can help diagnose a joint condition as well as relieve pain and pressure in a joint.