I think I broke a bone. What test should I get?

Humans are not perfectly designed machines. They get sick, fall down and get broken quite easily and more often than they like. Getting broken bones is never fun. It’s painful, may require a hospital visit and can be uncomfortable for several weeks afterward. Auto accidents, sports, and falls are some of the most common ways breaks and fracture occur. Regardless of age, bone fractures and breaks are always alarming because if not properly examined, muscles, ligaments and nerves can become damaged as well. So after the shock and excruciating pain of a bone break fades slightly, here are the tests your Radiologist will schedule to determine the extent of your damage.

X-rays

X-rays are the oldest and one of the most commonly used forms of medical imaging. X-rays use small amounts of radiation aimed at the body and in turn, the excited atoms relay the location and density of the internal structures of the body to the X-ray machine. Most facilities and hospitals use digital X-rays today which have much lower doses of radiation if that is a concern of the patient. Bones in particular become very prominent when using this method of medical imaging. Radiologists use X-rays so they can clearly see the area that has been broken, if there is an object lodged within the area or for determining if a patient needs to have surgery. Radiologists will primarily use an X-ray when examining a bone breakage because of the non-invasive nature of the procedure. The most uncomfortable part of this scan will likely be remaining still and relaxed especially if it irritates the area with the bone break. But it is important for patients to remain as still as possible so the image is not distorted.

MRI

In addition to the X-ray, your Radiologist may schedule a CT or MRI to better look at a potentially broken bone. Is this a reason to become worried? Certainly not. Radiologists like to be thorough and patients usually appreciate the extra effort. MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a procedure that is commonly used for musculoskeletal disorders and concerns. MRIs use magnetic and radio waves to create their images. There is no radiation used but once again the patient will have to lie down on an examination table in order to have the MRI performed. This can be painful but necessary because when a bone breaks, there can be other damages surrounding break site. In order to determine if there are any ligaments, tendons, or nerves damaged around the break, Radiologists need to see more than just the bone.

Having a broken bone will never be considered an enjoyable experience, but with the advances in medical imaging technology, Radiologists will have more detailed images to help heal their patients. If you have a fracture or break, be sure to ask your doctor if you need these procedures so that you can be sure your therapy and healing process can be completed as quickly as possible.

Did you break your bone in Louisiana? We’ll provide you with the imaging tests you need to know the full extent of your injury. You can schedule an imaging appointment online, or call 504-883-8111. We’re conveniently located in Metairie, LA.

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