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Evaluation Procedures for Orthopedic Problems

What are standard evaluation procedures?

Before a treatment or rehabilitation plan can be made, your orthopedist must first find what is causing your condition. This typically involves a physical exam and a review of your health history. The healthcare provider will also look at your symptoms. Tell your provider about any other illnesses, injuries, or complaints that may be causing the pain or condition. Also tell them about any treatments or medicines that you have had. You may have testing after this first exam.

Advanced evaluation procedures

If you need more evaluation, you may have 1 of these tests:

  • X-ray. This test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to make images of tissues, bones, and organs on film.

  • Arthrogram. This X-ray shows bone structures after an injection of a contrast fluid into a joint area. When the fluid leaks into an area where it does not belong, disease or injury may be considered. A leak would mean there is a tear, opening, or blockage.

  • MRI. This test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures within the body. It can often determine damage or disease in a surrounding ligament or muscle.

  • CT scan. This test uses X-rays and computer technology to make horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.

  • Electromyogram (EMG). This test evaluates nerve and muscle function.

  • Ultrasound. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs

  • Myelogram. This test involves the injection of a dye or contrast material into the spinal canal. Next, a specific X-ray study lets the healthcare provider evaluate the spinal canal and nerve roots.

  • Radionuclide bone scan. This is a nuclear imaging test. It uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the bloodstream to be found by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.

  • Blood tests. Other blood tests may be used to check for certain types of arthritis or other disorders.

  • Arthroscopy. This procedure is used to evaluate a joint. It uses a small, lighted, optic tube (arthroscope). This tube is inserted into the joint through a small cut or incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen. It's used to evaluate any degenerative or arthritic changes in the joint. It also finds bone diseases, ligament or cartilage tears, or tumors and may help find the cause of bone pain and inflammation. This procedure can often find and treat the problem during 1 procedure.

After the healthcare provider has collected and looked at the test results, they will discuss the treatment methods with you. Together you can choose the best treatment plan for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Rahul Banerjee MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2023
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