What does a specialised musculoskeletal radiologist do?

A musculoskeletal radiologist interprets imaging tests to diagnose conditions affecting the bones, joints and soft tissues. Scans include X-ray, CT scans, MRI scans and Ultrasound.

I have been referred for an X-ray - what happens?

X-rays are quick and painless. They use a type of radiation that can pass through the body. The energy from the X-rays is absorbed differently by different parts of the body. The X-rays are picked up by a detector on the other side of the body and turned into an image(s). Denser parts of your body, such as bones, show up as white on the X-ray, while less dense parts show up as darker areas.

I have been referred for an Ultrasound scan - what is it?

An ultrasound scan uses high frequency sound waves to produce moving images of the inside of your body. When the sound waves bounce off different parts of the body they create echoes. These are picked up by the ultrasound probe and turned into images. No radiation involved and relatively safe.

I need an injection for my frozen shoulder - what happens in Hydrodilatation?

Hydrodilatation is a treatment procedure to help reduce pain and improve movement in a frozen shoulder. It involves stretching the joint capsule and reducing inflammation by injecting a mixture of local anaesthetic, steroid and saline (salty water). X-ray or ultrasound guidance can be used to help the radiologist to inject into the right place. Relatively quick and non-invasive procedure compared to surgery.

I have been referred for a CT scan - what does it do?

A CT scan uses X-rays and radiation to help produce detailed images of the inside of your body. You lie down on a table and pass quickly through the scanner, aka “the donut”, to create detailed images of the inside of your body.

I have been diagnosed with tendinopathy (tendon overuse injury) in my knee - what are my 
treatment options in radiology?

Tendinopathy can be a painful condition associated with overuse of the tendon e.g. in the knee. Alongside physiotherapy techniques such as stretching and strengthening, there are a range of radiological procedures that can help including:

  • Ultrasound-guided Dry Needling
  • Ultrasound-guided Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection to promote cell regeneration and new tissue formation.
  • Ultrasound-guided tendon stripping

I have been referred for an MRI scan - what is it?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The scan uses powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of your body. It can be used for virtually all internal body structures including bones, internal organs and soft tissues. You lie down on a table and pass through the scanner aka ” the tunnel” and the scan usually lasts around 20-30 mins on average dependent on the type of scan being performed. No radiation involved.

I am told I need a dye test and MRI scan together - why? What does an MRI arthrogram 

An MRI arthrogram is a two-part procedure used for problems affecting the inner margins of  joints such as your shoulder or hip. Tissues – cartilage, tendons and ligaments – cushion and support these joints. An MRI arthrogram is used to locate problems with these tissues, such as tears.  Firstly you will have an arthrogram in which contrast dye is injected into your joint under  X-ray or Ultrasound-guidance  to guide the radiologist to inject it into the right place.  This takes around 20-25 minutes. Afterwards you will have an MRI scan to examine the joint.

I have had lots of cortisone (steroid) injections before in my joints - is there anything else I 
can try?

You may be able to have oral pain-killers or anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy, or other relatively non-invasive procedures depending on precisely what is causing your pain.

I have metalwork in my body from previous operations - can I still have a scan?

Metal-work can interfere with the quality of imaging obtained from a CT or MRI scan. Pacemakers (to control an irregular or slow heartbeat) and ICDs (which, deliver shocks to regulate your heartbeat) are usually incompatible with MRI. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have a scan but it is vital that you tell the radiographer. It is sometimes possible to make pacemakers and defibrillators MRI-safe or to monitor your heart rhythm during the scan. If you are unsure whether you have metal implants in your body you may need to undergo an X-ray before your MRI scan.

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