Ultrasound Guided Injections
Ultrasound has been used for decades in treating a wide variety of medical conditions and injuries. It provides a view of internal body structures that are impossible to see with the naked eye. Ultrasound enables medical practitioners to accurately locate damage to joints and tendons, allowing close examination and pinpoint targeting of injections for the best chance of treatment success. New developments in technology have allowed portable ultrasound machines to be utilised within Sports and Exercise Medicine Clinics.
Ultrasound guided injections are commonly used for treating sports injuries. The needle is guided under direct visualisation with the ultrasound to the targeted structure. The ultrasound provides anatomic information and a view of the injected material as it enters the target area. This allows the doctor to accurately place the injection into the joint, bursa, tendon or tendon sheath.
The areas most commonly targeted for ultrasound guided injections are the shoulder, elbow, hip or foot/ankle.
For some injections use of the ultrasound is not required, for instance many knee or ankle joint injections can successfully be done using appropriate non-guided techniques.
The ultrasound guided injection procedure
The doctor will explain the procedure, as well as the potential risks and benefits. Generally the risk of injections is extremely small. The risk of introducing infection is often the most serious complication, but this is very rare and estimated to be less than 1 in 10,000. Other potential risks are dependant on the site and the type of injection.
Injections would usually take place in the normal clinic consulting room. You will be positioned comfortably and the doctor may examine the area first, with or without the ultrasound. The area to be injected may be marked and an antiseptic solution applied to the skin to help prevent possible infection. The doctor will then use ultrasound to watch the tip of the needle as it is injected into the affected joint or bursa. The technique can vary depending on the joint or structure targeted.
Ultrasound guided injections take approximately ten minutes to administer with little to no down-time required after the procedure.