Investigation of Knee Problems
By taking a detailed history of your symptoms and examining your knee, your Knee Specialists consultant will often be able to diagnose the problem. However, further investigations are sometimes necessary. The Knee Specialists consultant partners work closely with Bristol musculoskeletal imaging (expert radiologists), holding regular weekly meetings to discuss scans and complex cases. The following paragraph tells you about some of the tests and scans you may need to undergo:
- Blood tests can help distinguish between inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis and help rule out infection in painful joint replacements. Some routine blood tests are usually required as part of the pre-operative assessment for large operations.
- X-rays of the knee can help assess bone injury and the distribution and severity of knee arthritis. Special views, including weight bearing or stress views and long leg alignment films, may be necessary in arthritic patients.
- CT scans use radiation like X-rays but can provide useful 3-dimensional assessment of alignment and bone damage, particularly in the assessment of painful or collapsed knee replacements prior to revision surgery.
- MRI scans do not use radiation. They give an assessment of bone problems around the knee, but are most effective at showing injuries to the knee ligaments, discs of cartilage (menisci) and surface cartilage.
- Ultrasound scans, when performed by experienced musculoskeletal radiologists, can provide an excellent dynamic assessment of tendonitis and bursitis around the knee, as well as being used to provide accurate guidance for targeted injections of either steroids or platelet-rich plasma (PRP).