There are a variety of technologies available to orthopedic specialists and surgeons. We use these images to discover the true cause of our patient’s pain—and be able to strategize how to approach their care. KCOA is bringing you resources on the types of diagnostic imaging services in Kansas City.
Before your next appointment, it’s important you have an X-Ray, MRI, or CT scan on file. But how do you know which one you may need? Read below to find out more.
Please Note: Prior to any imaging study, it’s essential that you inform the technician if you are pregnant.
What is an x-ray?
The first type of diagnostic imaging service is an X-ray. Also called radiographs, an x-ray can provide us with a picture of the bone. It’s one of the most common and easily accessible diagnostic imaging tools available to healthcare providers!
How do you use x-ray images in an orthopedic practice?
X-rays are used for several purposes. In an emergency room, urgent care, or primary care setting, your doctor may order an x-ray to rule out the possibility of a fracture (broken bone) or osteoarthritis in the area(s) causing your pain.
However, in an orthopedic specialty clinic such as KCOA, healthcare providers will examine x-rays closely and assess the image for more than a possible fracture or the presence of osteoarthritis.
The orthopedic provider will also assess the image for joint space and alignment of the bones that come together to form the joint. Joint space (or a lack of it) typically indicates the presence of osteoarthritis, the severity of which we can determine by the x-ray image.
Additionally, orthopedic specialists frequently prefer x-rays of the lower extremity (the bottom half of your body) and spine with the patient standing or placing weight on the joint, if possible. This helps the orthopedist see what the area looks like when the patient is active, as this may change the appearance of the joint, its spacing, and overall alignment.
What is an MRI?
An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is another diagnostic imaging service in Kansas City. During an MRI, the patient is typically placed on a table that slides into a tube-shaped scanner. The MRI machine creates a magnetic field around the patient, using pulsed radio waves to form the MRI images. An MRI produces sharp, detailed images, specifically when examining soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, or spinal discs.
While an MRI produces precise images, it is essential the patient lie as still as possible to avoid blurring the images with any movement. Due to the strong magnetic field created during an MRI, patients should inform the ordering provider if they have a pacemaker or other implanted metal devices at the time the test is ordered.
How do you use MRI scans in orthopedics?
You may associate MRI scans with the brain. However, doctors can also use this technology for orthopedic services! An MRI scan can provide two-dimensional images of a specific body part, which allows orthopedists to view cross-sectional images.
What is a CT scan?
A CT (Computed Tomography) scan, is a diagnostic tool which takes detailed two-dimensional images of a specific area of the body. It functions similarly to an MRI. However, a CT scan uses x-rays (instead of radio waves) to create multiple cross-sections of the body part.
How do you use CT scan results to treat my orthopedic issues?
Typically, we utilize a CT in orthopedics to evaluate a bony structure with greater detail than a single x-ray image. This may be particularly important when evaluating a complex fracture. It can also assist the surgeon in the evaluation of a joint prior to surgical treatment.
A CT scan may not provide the most precise images if the orthopedist is evaluating soft tissue structures. However, if you have a pacemaker or other implanted device, a CT scan may be the best advanced imaging option available.
Learn more about the types of diagnostic imaging services in Kansas City from KCOA
The professional orthopedic specialists at KCOA Orthopedics are happy to discuss your concerns. Need further information regarding the types of diagnostic imaging services available in Kansas City? Don’t hesitate to contact us with any other questions you have, or to schedule an appointment for your orthopedic concerns.