Ultrasound emerging as important diagnostic tool in sports medicine

2015-03-12 08:39:21 by Dr. Joe Congeni - Director of Sports Medicine, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.


Though ultrasound technology is nothing new in health care, it's become an emerging and exciting tool in sports medicine in recent years.

It's being used in several ways to help us diagnose patients and avoid the use of time-consuming, costly equipment like MRI scanners.

Diagnostic ultrasounds are useful for diagnosing patients during movement, as well as pinpointing exact locations for injectable medicines.

Yesterday, I talked with WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about this technology and how it's being used in sports medicine. It was a hot topic at last week's sold-out sports medicine conference here.

Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.

HORNER: Hey, Joe! How are ya?

DR. CONGENI: Good, Ray. How are you today?

HORNER: I'm doing very well. Thanks for giving us a call, as always. Dr. Joe Congeni with us, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children's Hospital.

DR. CONGENI: We had our conference last week. One of the topics in primary care, non-operative sports medicine -- so people who don't do surgery in sports medicine, like us, and treat people with rehab, which is the majority of sports medicine -- one of the tools that has been developing in the last few years that I don't think we've talked about much here, Ray, is, uh, ultrasound, uh, as a tool to help us a lot in sports medicine.

Dr. Joe Congeni Dr. Joe Congeni

It helps us a couple different ways. ... There's a treatment modality called ultrasound that is to, you know, help athletes get better...um, diagnostic ultrasound is used to help us in sports medicine to make diagnoses.

There are really 3 things that it does, and these ultrasound units have developed over time in sports medicine. They're very small. They're the size of gosh, a uh, laptop computer ... you know, about that size.

You know, during pregnancy you can see a lot in ultrasounds of the new baby that, you know, is gonna be born. Now, we are using those in sports medicine to diagnose people.


  • No. 1: We can look at things early on and instead of necessarily in the early courses of this thing having to go to an MRI or other things. You know that X-ray doesn't answer everything unless it's a boney problem. Ultrasound's helpful in that way.

  • No. 2 thing about ultrasound is that particularly in adult musculoskeletal medicine, where there's a lot of injections that we need to do into areas, the ultrasound units can help guide us as to where exactly we want to put that medicine that we use from an injection. So, that's become one of the ways that ultrasound has been an emerging tool for us.

  • And, the 3rd area is that we're able to kinda look at a dynamic . So, you can actually look at the limb while it's moving.


What happens in a lot of our athletes is they get injuries that are related to a certain movement pattern, like you were talking about Gavin Floyd (Cleveland Indians) this morning and his elbow.

So, you can actually move the elbow back and forth and see , is the nerve being pinched? Is the tendon being pinched? When you put somebody on an MRI table, you just look at the MRI and there's no movement. There's nothing dynamic to it.

So, 3 of the exciting things about ultrasound are they can be used right on the field, or right in the office to help diagnose. No. 2, they can help us do injections, and No. 3, they can help us as we put athletes through a movement pattern to diagnose. And so, this is really an exciting, emerging tool in sports medicine.

HORNER: Alright, Joe, good information. Thanks for coming on board, as always. Good insight, appreciate the time.

DR. CONGENI: Have a great week, Ray. Thanks a lot.

HORNER: You too. Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children's Hospital.

Originally aired on 1590 WAKR-AM on March 11, 2015


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