The use of ultrasonic sound waves to produce images of structures deep within the human body is very common. Applying this technology to the diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries is gaining popularity.
On my most recent trip to Haiti, I was asked to participate in a series of lectures sponsored by the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine for the Haitian Olympic Federation. Among the other faculty members was Dr. Thomas Trojian, a primary care sports medicine specialist and associate professor at the University of Connecticut.
Dr. Trojian finds ultrasound to be an important part of his practice. “Ultrasound is an emerging imaging study that provides a new dimension to the physical examination of athletes,” said Trojian.
The science of acoustics has fascinated scientists since ancient times. Over the past 60 years, ultrasound has gained popularity in medical imaging.
Ultrasound can provide increasingly detailed studies of soft tissue within the human body. In utero, pictures of fetuses have become so refined that they allow physicians to perform corrective procedures at this early stage of life.
In sports, ultrasound produces dynamic images of tendons and muscles as a limb or appendage is moving. This is a distinct advantage over the static (non-moving) images seen in X-ray, CT or MRI.
In sports, these images can specifically demonstrate tears, inflammatory changes or bleeding within muscles and tendons. One great advantage is that ultrasound does not expose the patient to radiation therefore making it safe to use in young athletes.
Most recently, ultrasound is being used to guide the placement of therapeutic injections to areas of injury resulting in pain relief and rapid healing.
Ultrasound provides a safe office-based technology to get injured athletes at any level back to their sport sooner.