Imaging Tests that Aid in Your Orthopedic Diagnosis

Imaging Tests that Aid in Your Orthopedic Diagnosis

Orthopedic specialists need to take multiple steps when diagnosing a patient’s condition. They make their conclusion after using a bevy of tools, including learning as much as they can about a patient’s individual medical history, their family medical history, and symptoms, as well as performing range-of-motion testing and a manual examination.

No matter how skilled your doctor is, however, they unfortunately don’t have X-ray vision, which is why they need imaging tests — like X-rays — to assist them in visualizing what’s going on in your body.

Dr. Struan Coleman and his able team care for you with a clinically experienced, caring, and thorough approach. No matter which of their services you want to take advantage of, it’s likely that imaging will be necessary for Dr. Coleman to finalize his diagnosis. 

The role of imaging in orthopedics

As we mentioned before, it would be ideal if your doctor could see right into your body and look at your joints, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage with the naked eye. Then they’d be able to diagnose your problem lickety split. 

Instead, your doctor must rely on tried-and-true tests that give them a closer, clearer look at the cause of your discomfort and limited mobility. 

What kind of imaging methods do orthopedic specialists rely on? 

Dr. Coleman uses imaging tests to diagnose many orthopedic conditions, from meniscus problems and rotator cuff injuries to joint inflammation and hamstring tears. Common imaging techniques include:


X-rays use short-wavelength electromagnetic waves to produce images. An X-ray is particularly useful for revealing fractures and joint damage, but it can also reveal tumors, which appear as light-colored. Soft tissues and bone breaks look darker. 

X-ray images enable your doctor to more easily narrow down your treatment options, such as whether you should be put in a cast or simply rest and receive a course of physical therapy after you gain sufficient mobility.

CT (computed tomography) scans

A CT scan uses the same technology as an X-ray, but it can make all the diagnostic difference in assessing your bones, joints, and soft tissues if your X-ray results prove inconclusive because it generates a 3D image instead of a 2D image.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan

MRIs use a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to create high-resolution images. These allow your doctor to see cartilage issues that X-rays and CT scans can’t always spot, like a torn meniscus, which is a damaged cushion inside your knee joint. They’re also great for diagnosing herniated discs and hip problems. 

MRI arthrography

MRI arthrography combines MRI technology with contrast dye to improve image detail. The doctor inserts a thin needle into your joint that contains dye and takes multiple X-rays. The visual contrast provided by the dye allows your doctor a clearer view of all your joint components, whether minute or large, and the resulting images may point to a need for shoulder or knee arthroscopy, for example. 

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of an orthopedic problem, call any of our offices to set up a consultation with Dr. Coleman for a definitive diagnosis and proper treatment. You can also schedule online for our Midtown and Locust Valley, New York or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania locations.

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