The Wrist

Diagnostic Tests

There are a variety of diagnostic tests that your provider may order to determine the extent of your wrist injury. Those tests may include:

During an X-ray, low-level radiation is passed through the body to produce a picture called a radiograph. An X-ray is useful for diagnosing fractures or other problems of the bones. Soft tissues, such as muscles and tendons, do not show up on X-rays.

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a procedure that uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer to create pictures of areas inside the wrist. During the procedure, your wrist is placed in a cylindrical chamber where energy from a powerful magnet is passed through the joint.

An arthrogram is a diagnostic record that can be seen on an X-ray after the injection of a contrast fluid into the wrist joint to outline internal structures. If there is disease or an injury 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.

An ultrasound is a noninvasive procedure in which a small, hand-held scanner is placed on the skin of the wrist. Ultrasound waves are reflected off of the internal structures to form a high-quality picture of the wrist.