MRI scans are frequently used to evaluate the internal structures of the knee (you can read more about MRI here).
A variety of trends have increased the use of MRI in evaluating joints
- more sports activity, increase in obesity rates, and we've remained
much more active into our later years than previous generations.
you've injured your knee or have chronic knee pain, your doctor will
probably first order an x-ray. After an x-ray, an MRI may be needed to
evaluate the internal structures of the knee. On your doctor's order
for the MRI you might see:
"r/o internal derangement" - internal derangement is a general term referring to any type of injury/damage to the internal structures of the knee.
"r/o ACL tear"-
ACL refers to the anterior cruciate ligament. It is an important
stabilizing ligament of the knee and is frequently damaged in twisting
"r/o meniscus tear" - the meniscus (you have
two per knee) is a disc-like structure that acts like a shock absorber
between your femur (upper thigh bone) and the tibia (lower leg bone).
These are the two bones that make up much of the knee joint.
(FYI - "r/o" is short for "rule out")
An MRI of the knee will evaluate:
knee MRI will include parts of the lower femur, upper tibia, upper
fibula and the patella. The knee MRI can detect bone bruises,
fractures, cysts, tumors, infection and dislocations. An MRI can also determine the extent of arthritis and assist in pre-operative planning.
MRIs are very good at looking at the cartilage of your knee. MRI can
detect cartilage fraying (like frayed edges of jeans), fissuring
(cracks, similar to a dry river bed), and defects (the cartilage is
missing). Damaged cartilage can lead to arthritis.
Tendons and Ligaments
Your knee has a complex set
of tendons and ligaments that an MRI can evaluate. In addition to the
ACL, it can look for injury to the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), medial and lateral collateral
ligaments, the quadriceps and patellar tendons, popliteus tendon, among
others. Any of these tendons and ligaments can be injured and the injury may only be seen on MRI.
Each knee has two menisci (medial and
lateral). MRI is quite good at looking for injury to these structures.
Mensicus injuries include partial or complete tears and meniscal
degeneration. Sometimes an MRI is ordered to look at re-injury even
after you've had mensical surgery for a previous tear.
refers to the muscles and tissues around your knee. A knee MRI scan
will show parts of the thigh muscles and muscles of the upper calf
area. The MRI can detect muscle tears, strains, tumors and infection.
It can also detect a common fluid collection called a "Bakers' cyst".
This is a joint fluid collection that can cause pain at the back of the
Your Knee MRI Scan
A knee MRI generally takes about 20 minutes or so to complete. If you are going for one, wear loose comfortable clothing and remember to remove all metal (jewelry, phones, rings, etc) before going into the MRI scan room. If you're insured, you may need to have your test authorized (approved) by your insurance company first. If you're uninsured and need to look up prices and buy an MRI scan of the knee, you can use our website. Click here to see MRI scan costs.
Have you had a Knee MRI scan? What was it like? Please leave your comments below.