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Ultrasound in Sports Medicine

Mark P. Bowes, PhD

*Medical Writer, Portland, Oregon.

Address correspondence to: Mark P. Bowes, PhD, Medical Writer, 7135 SE 18th Avenue, Portland, OR, 97202. E-mail: mpbowes@gmail.com.

Disclosure Statement: Dr Bowes reports having no financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.


Each year, more than 7 million people in the United States receive medical treatment for injuries associated with sports or exercise. Rapid assessment and development of a treatment plan are often essential to attain the best possible clinical outcome while minimizing recovery time. Over the last two decades, musculoskeletal ultrasound has emerged as an important imaging modality to assess sports-related injuries. Sonographic evaluation provides higher spatial resolution than magnetic resonance imaging for some musculoskeletal applications, and it provides rapid, point-of-care diagnostic assessment without the need for radiation exposure or contrast agents. Common indications for musculoskeletal ultrasound of sports-related injuries include assessment of joint instability, muscle strains, contusions, or tears; tendon degeneration or inflammation; torn ligaments; damage to cartilaginous structures of the joints; and ruptured bursae. Sonography is also used to guide musculoskeletal interventions such as joint injections and drainage of cysts. Imaging sports-related injuries is often challenging, and may require special equipment and positioning, including stress views and weight-bearing equipment or stances. Recent publications from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American College of Radiology provide recommendations about the sonographic examinations that are most important in assessment of sports-related injuries, as well as detailed guidelines on patient positioning and image acquisition.

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