Imaging

Osteoarthritis

Preliminary Diagnosis: Osteoarthritis

I. What imaging technique is first-line for this diagnosis?

  • Plain radiography.

II. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of this technique for diagnosis of osteoarthritis.

Advantages

  • Quick and relatively inexpensive imaging modality

  • Exposes patients to minimal ionizing radiation.

  • Highly sensitive and specific in detailing osseous abnormalities

Disadvantages

  • Limited in evaluating the surrounding soft tissues

III. What are the contraindications for the first-line imaging technique?

  • No specific contraindications to plain radiography exist. Some institutions may require consent for pregnant patients.

IV. What alternative imaging techniques are available?

  • CT of the region of interest

  • MR imaging of the region of interest without contrast

V. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative techniques for diagnosisof osteoarthritis.

CT of the region of interest

Advantages

  • Offers exquisite visualization of the surrounding osseous structures

  • Details subtle changes from osteoarthritis

Disadvantages

  • Exposes patients to ionizing radiation

  • Offers limited evaluation of the surrounding soft tissues

MR imaging of the region of interest without contrast

Advantages

  • Offers exquisite visualization of the surrounding soft tissues

  • Does not expose patients to ionizing radiation

Disadvantages

  • Offers limited evaluation of the underlying osseous structures

VI. What are the contraindications for the alternative imaging techniques?

CT of the region of interest

  • May be contraindicated in patients who are pregnant

MR imaging of the region of interest without contrast

  • Contraindicated in patients with non–MR-compatible hardware

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