My answer to What are the advantages of using ultrasound imaging vs. MRI to analyze a tendinopathy at the lateral e…
Answer by Allen Willette:
For those who may not have familiarity with it, Ultrasound Imaging or 'Diagnostic Ultrasound' to distinguish it from ‘Therapeutic Ultrasound,’ (a treatment modality used in Physical Therapy) is like an X-ray, except that it uses sound waves – and it's not a static picture, but a dynamic, “video-like” image, viewed on a screen in real-time.
The advantages, when it comes to imaging the tendons and other soft tissues at and around the Lateral Epicondyle for diagnosing Tennis Elbow and other conditions, are:
- It's relatively cheap and easy, costing a fraction of what an MRI costs,
- It takes much less time and involves much less of an inconvenience than an MRI scan,
- There are no EMFs or X-rays – The imaging subjects you to neither ionizing gamma rays (X-ray) nor a massive electromagnetic field, (MRI) which, I can’t help but wonder about the health effects of,
- And, since it's dynamic, and done in real time, it allows the Doctor or technician to “look around” from different angles and even observe how things look when the you move your arm
(This last, real-time, dynamic aspect, of the scan can be especially useful for observing how well the underlying RadioCapitellar Joint moves, and observe other tissues in motion and under load.)
It seems to have a lot of potential for diagnosing – and especially assessing the severity of Tennis Elbow, and similar Tendinopathies.
However, it also seems to be rarely-used for this purpose, at least here in the United States. (For reasons I still don't fully understand.)
Here's my more detailed exploration of this topic on my Quora Blog:
And for an even more in-depth look, here's an article I wrote covering this question (about why it isn't routinely offered) and related questions about Sonograms for Tennis Elbow: