We utilize diagnostic ultrasound in our Seattle clinic to visualize soft tissue problems that cannot be seen on x-ray.
What is Diagnostic Ultrasound Imaging?
Ultrasound imaging is the use of sound waves to visualize the body. Just as expectant parents can see their child in the mother’s womb with the use of ultrasound imaging, we can visualize the structures of the foot and ankle.
Ultrasound is 100% safe – there is no radiation involved. An ultrasound image is very effective way to examine the musculoskeletal system of the body to detect problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and soft tissue. Ultrasound images occur in real time, so they can often show movement, function and anatomy, as well as enable our doctors to diagnose a variety of conditions and assess damage after an injury.
What can be diagnosed with ultrasound?
Ultrasound images can be useful in diagnosing the following conditions in the foot. You can click on each item for details on how ultrasound is used for the particular problem.
- Plantar fasciitis
- Tear of plantar fascia
- Heel spurs
- Plantar fibroma
- Morton’s neuroma
- Achilles tendontendonitis or rupture
- Posterior tibialis tendon dysfunction or rupture
- Bone injuries-fractures-stress fractures
- Ankle sprains- strains
- Retrocalcaneal bursitis
- Cystic masses
- Rheumatoid arthritis- capsular erosion- nodules
What procedures can the ultrasound be used for?
One of the biggest benefits of the ultrasound is to help guide us when giving injections. We first numb your foot so that there is no pain. Then we can use the ultrasound image to see exactly where we need to inject to help your particular problem. Ultrasound guided injections allow for such precise placement of medication that a lower dose of the medication is often used. Some areas where we use guided injections include:
- Morton’s neuroma guided injection
- Plantar fasciitis guided injection
- Plantar fasciitis dry needling
How should I prepare for the procedure?
No preparation is necessary. Just wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam.
How is the procedure performed?
First we position you on the examination chair. Then a clear gel is applied to the area that will be examined.. We then press the transducer against the skin and move it back and forth to image the area while reviewing the images on a monitor and capturing pictures as required.
What are the benefits versus the risks?
- Ultrasound scanning is noninvasive and painless
- Ultrasound is much less expensive than MRI, CT scan or bone scans
Unlike x-rays, ultrasound imaging uses no radiation
- Ultrasound provides real-time imaging, making it a great tool for guiding injections or aspirations of fluid in joints or elsewhere. This allows our doctors to place injections more precisely in order to achieve better outcomes and avoid potential complications.
- Unlike the magnetic field of MRI units, ultrasound is not affected by cardiac pacemakers or implants within the body.
- Ultrasound may actually have advantages over MRI in seeing tendon structure, which is better appreciated by ultrasound than MRI at a fraction of the cost.
Risks: For diagnostic ultrasound there are no known harmful effects on humans.
What are the limitations of ultrasound imaging?
Ultrasound does not penetrate bone well, so you can only see the outer surface of bony structures and not what lies within.