When people think of an ultrasound, they often think of someone receiving one when they are pregnant to see the baby growing in the womb, but did you know that an ultrasound can also be used to perform evaluations and injections on muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints?
An ultrasound (sonography) is a method of imaging that uses no radiation and high-frequency sound waves to create real-time and dynamic images of the body. A probe (transducer) is coated in ultrasound gel which helps create a bond between the skin and the ultrasound probe. The gel acts as a conductive medium and guarantees the reflected sound waves have little interference. The probe is then placed on or near the injury site. Once the provider has identified where the needle needs to go, the injection will be administered.
Using an ultrasound during the injection allows the physician to visualize the joint and surrounding structures in real time, helping to improve the accuracy of an injection into the chosen site. Even the most experienced hands doing a non-image guided injection are not 100% accurate; and, in some joints, accuracy drops below 50%. When ultrasound is used to guide the injection almost every joint injection surpasses 90% and is closer to 100% accuracy in many cases.
Other benefits of an ultrasound guided injection include:
The injection is typically less painful
The ultrasound does not produce any radiation
Gives the physician real time and dynamic feedback that the doctor can see and use instantly
The physician can avoid any unwanted issues before they arise by being able to see the path of the needle
Allows the physician to see fluid surrounding and in joints, tendons, muscles, nerves and other soft-tissue structures
As accurate as other imaging methods but typically cost the patient less
Further reduces some of the risks associated with an injection
Allows injections that need to be performed under fluoroscopy to be performed in office using ultrasound instead