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.
After reading this article, the participant should be able to:
- Identify common sports-related injuries requiring musculoskeletal ultrasound and the assessments indicated for each.
- Describe advantages, disadvantages, and challenges of sonographic imaging of common areas of sports-related injury, and techniques for overcoming them.
- Identify key components of the patient encounter, including what questions to ask and how to appropriately examine and image the patient with an athletic injury.
- Discuss key recommendations from guidelines regarding core competencies in using ultrasound for the diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries.
Categories: Ultrasound/Sonography, Radiology