Elbow MRI Scan
If you’ve had persistent soreness in your elbow or recently experienced an injury, an MRI scan of your elbow may be in order.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are a common diagnostic technique for musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses, offering comprehensive images of soft tissues and even certain bones. Even though MRI scans can provide valuable information about what might be happening with your body, they can seem intimidating – especially if it’s your first time having one.
To help ease any concerns you have before getting an elbow MRI scan, this topic will outline the process step-by-step, from preparing for the procedure to interpreting results. Read on to find out more.
What is an Elbow MRI Scan?
An Elbow MRI Scan is an imaging test used to examine the normal anatomy of your elbow joint. It can be conducted in an outpatient setting and doesn’t require any radiation, but it does involve magnetic fields and radio waves. This exam can assist in diagnosing injuries or disorders that affect your elbows, such as fractures, ligament tears, inflammation, or nerve damage.
It can also monitor the progress of any existing treatments you are undergoing for elbow problems. The MRI scan aids in providing a clear picture of the soft tissue, bones, ligaments, and tendons surrounding your elbow. This enables the detection of any elbow joint problems, which can then be used to build an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
How Does Elbow MRI Work?
An Elbow MRI uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to produce detailed photos of the elbow. The MRI machine sends pulses of energy into the area being imaged, which creates signals detected by the machine’s sensors. These signals are then used to construct an image of the scanned body part.
The technology is very useful in diagnosing elbow injuries, as it can provide more detailed information than X-rays or CT scans. It is also useful in monitoring how treatments such as physical therapy are progressing.
The MRI scan typically takes about 20-25 minutes, and patients remain still while the scan is in progress. This is generally quite safe, although there may be some discomfort due to the strong magnet. The radiologist will monitor the scan and take images of the elbow from different angles.
When the MRI is complete, a report is generated that outlines any abnormalities found in the scan. This report is then reviewed by your doctor, who can use it to make a diagnosis or recommend treatment options.
Why Might You Need an Elbow MRI Scan?
There are numerous indications and symptoms that can lead to your doctor recommending an elbow MRI scan. Here are ten of them:
• Pain that radiates or is located around the elbow joint
• Swelling and stiffness in the elbow joint
• Reduced range of motion in your arm
• Weakness in your forearm muscles
• Numbness and tingling in the afflicted area
• Tenderness when the elbow is touched
• Popping sensation in the elbow joint
• Clicking sound when you move your arm
• Discomfort that gets worse with the use of the arm
• Redness or heat around the elbow joint.
If you possess any of the above symptoms, your doctor may recommend an elbow MRI scan to assess what’s going on with your elbow joint. This will save you the hassle of undergoing multiple, less precise tests and give you a clear picture of your elbow’s condition.
How to Prepare for Your Elbow MRI Scan?
If you’ve been referred for an elbow MRI scan, there are a few actions you can take to ensure that your appointment runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Preparing for the exam ahead of time helps minimize stress on test day and may result in higher-quality photographs.
Before your appointment, it’s important to speak with your doctor about any relevant medical conditions or allergies you may have. It’s also wise to let them know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as extra precautions must be taken. If you take regular medications, inform the doctor, too, as some medications may interfere with the test.
On the day of your MRI scan, it’s best to wear comfy clothing that is easy to remove and put back on. You may even need to wear a gown that the hospital or clinic will provide. Metal objects, such as jewellery or body piercing, should be removed before the scan to avoid interference with the imaging process.
What to Expect From Your Elbow MRI Scan?
An elbow MRI scan is often used to help diagnose injuries related to the elbow joint. It can reveal the extent of damage in soft tissue and ligaments and any underlying issues that may need treatment. When an experienced radiologist performs your Elbow MRI, it will provide a detailed image of the entire area surrounding the joint. The MRI will look at the ulnar collateral ligament, lateral collateral ligament complex, and the lateral ulnar collateral ligament.
During your Elbow MRI scan, you’ll be requested to lie unmoving on a table while a scanner takes images of your elbow. The scanner will send out sound waves, which are then converted into images of your elbow. These images can help identify signs of injury or damage, including tears in the radial collateral ligament or elbow dislocation. The MRI scan can also provide details on inflammation and swelling contributing to medial elbow pain.
Your doctor may even request you to do some “active” exercises while the scan is done. This helps them better understand how your elbow joint moves and its range of motion. Your doctor will then compare these images to any existing X-rays or other imaging studies that they have performed.
After the MRI scan, your doctor will discuss the results with you. Depending on what was found during the scan, your doctor may recommend further treatment. This could include physical therapy to help improve the scope of motion and strengthen the wrist and elbow joint or medications to reduce inflammation or swelling. Surgery may be required if a tear in the radial annular ligament, collateral ligaments, or ulnar nerve is found.
What Are the Benefits of Elbow MRI?
An elbow MRI scan is a great way to accurately diagnose any issues you’re experiencing with your elbow. It can provide various benefits that can help you properly treat any elbow-related issues you may be having. Some of the main advantages of an elbow MRI scan include:
If you’re having elbow pain, an MRI scan may be just what the doctor prescribed. By providing clear and detailed images of your joint, an MRI can help doctors eliminate any injuries or conditions driving your discomfort.
This is especially true for the medial collateral ligament and common extensor tendon, which can be difficult to identify without modern imaging technologies. So, because it gives a thorough picture of the elbow, an MRI scan can help doctors make more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans.
Reduced Risk of Additional Injury
If your elbow hurts, the last thing you don’t want to experience during medical treatment is hurting it more. That’s why people with lateral epicondylitis or ulnar neuropathy can benefit so much from an MRI scan.
The scan isn’t invasive, so there’s no chance of doing more damage, and it can also help doctors figure out what’s wrong more correctly. This is greatly helpful for someone experiencing pain without swelling or other obvious signs.
No Radiation Exposure
An MRI doesn’t expose you to radiation like a CT scan or X-ray does.
This creates an ideal alternative for those with special medical considerations who can’t risk radiation exposure.
It is also advantageous for individuals who need to be scanned more than once, as the radiation can build up with multiple scans. An MRI scan can give you peace of mind that there will be no risk to your health through this procedure.
Without the need for radiation exposure, an MRI allows doctors to get a detailed look at your elbow and how it functions without putting you in danger.
Quick and Easy Procedure
MRI elbow scans are a very quick and easy procedure. The patient lies comfortably on the scanning table while the MRI scanner takes images of the arm and elbow joints. The entire process usually takes no extended than an hour, including preparation time.
The scan only lasts a few minutes, depending on how many images must be taken. The process is fairly painless, and for the most part, patients find it comfortable. So it’s a quick and easy solution to getting an accurate diagnosis.
No Dye or Contrast Agents Required
One of the best things about MRI elbow scans is that, unlike other types of imaging, no dye or contrast agent needs to be given. This means there is no additional risk to the patient’s health after undergoing this procedure.
It will also make having an MRI elbow scan considerably less uncomfortable than other imaging. With an MRI elbow scan, there is no need for needles or any invasive procedures. This makes it far more comfortable and relaxing for patients already nervous about getting scans done.