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Diagnostic Tests

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

This procedure uses low-level radiation that passes through the body to produce a two-dimensional picture called a radiograph. An x-ray can diagnose fractures or other problems of the bones.

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 called radionuclide scanning, is a technique for creating images of bones on a computer screen. Prior to the procedure, a contrast material is injected into the 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. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a monitor. Arthroscopy is almost never used for diagnosis alone, but as a surgical treatment. Diagnostic arthroscopy is the first part of arthroscopic surgery.

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.