The Knee

Diagnostic Tests

There are a variety of tests used to diagnose knee injuries. Those tests include:

This procedure uses low-level radiation that is passed through the body to produce a two-dimensional picture called a radiograph. An X-ray can diagnose fractures or other problems of the bones. Soft tissues, such as muscles and tendons, do not show up on X-rays.

CT Scan
A computerized axial tomography, or CT, scan  is a painless procedure where x-rays are passed through the knee at different angles, detected by a scanner, and analyzed by a computer. CT scan images show soft tissues such as ligaments or muscles more clearly than conventional x-rays. The computer can combine individual images to produce a three-dimensional view of the knee.

Bone Scan
A bone scan, also referred to as radionuclide scanning is a technique for creating images of bones on a computer screen. Prior to the procedure, a contrast material is injected into your bloodstream. The material collects in the bones, particularly in abnormal areas of the bones, and is detected by a scanner.

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a procedure that uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer to create pictures of areas inside the knee. During the procedure, your leg is placed in a cylindrical chamber where energy from a powerful magnet is passed through the knee. An MRI is particularly useful for detecting soft tissue damage.

Arthroscopy is a surgical technique in which the provider manipulates a small, lighted camera called an arthroscope that has been inserted into the joint through a small incision in the knee. Images of the inside of the knee joint are projected onto a monitor.

An arthrogram provides a diagnostic record that can be seen on an X-ray after the injection of a contrast fluid into the knee joint to outline structures of the knee. If disease or an injury is present, this contrast fluid may either leak into an area where it does not belong, indicating a tear or opening, or be blocked from entering an area where there normally is an opening.

Joint Aspiration
Joint aspiration is a procedure that uses a syringe to remove fluid buildup in a joint, and can reduce swelling and relieve pressure. A laboratory analysis of the fluid can determine the presence of a fracture, an infection, or an inflammatory response.