Ankle joint ultrasound is a study of the articulation of the bones of the foot and lower leg using ultrasound waves. It is used to assess the condition of soft tissue formations of the joints, to determine the presence and activity of the inflammatory process in rheumatic diseases, to conduct differential diagnosis with non-rheumatoid diseases.
Painful sensations, unpleasant pulling pain or restriction of joint mobility are very alarming signs that can signal various diseases. In order for the doctor to determine further treatment tactics, he needs complete information about the condition of the joints, their structure, size and integrity. For this purpose, it is recommended to undergo ultrasound diagnostics.
As a rule, examination is recommended in such situations:
- Injury, impact or injury to the ankle joint;
- Suspected degenerative diseases of cartilage tissues (arthritis, arthrosis);
- Severe pain or restriction when moving the joint.
Also, ultrasound examination of the ankle joint is often prescribed before and after surgery in order to determine the dynamics of treatment.
Ultrasound examination does not have a negative impact on the body. In addition, it passes painlessly and is not associated with unpleasant sensations. This allows patients of any age and any health condition to be examined, as well as to resort to the procedure as many times as necessary.
If a person complains that the leg is very sore during palpation, a specialist may recommend taking medications that will help relieve pain during the study.
If blood flow is assessed simultaneously with the diagnosis of the joint, it is necessary to exclude alcoholic and tonic drinks a day before the examination.
How the research is carried out
After entering the office, the patient needs to take off his shoes, pants and socks, and lie down on the couch. A special gel is applied to the skin of the area under study to facilitate contact of the sensor with tissues. Next, you should be careful and fulfill all the requests of a specialist. To get a complete clinical picture, it may be necessary to change the position of the body. The doctor studies the condition of the joint in various projections:
- Anterior projection – visualizes the joints of the tibial muscle, the long extensor of the thumb, the muscles themselves of the anterior surface of the lower leg, as well as the tendons of the long extensor of the fingers.
- Medial location – makes it possible to consider the posterior tibial muscle, deltoid ligament and tibial nerve, whose diseases are often accompanied by discomfort.
- Lateral access – provides access to the tendons of the long and short fibular muscles and most of the nearby tissues.
- Posterior localization – allows you to assess the structure and general condition of the Achilles tendon, calcaneus and plantar aponeurosis.
On average, the examination is performed in 15-20 minutes, after which the patient is given a protocol of the study, sent to the doctor for decoding and prescribing therapy if deviations are detected during ankle joint ultrasound.
The interpretation of the results obtained is handled by the attending physician. The study takes into account the structure, integrity of the joint, echogenicity of tissues, their localization and density.
What can be discovered
Joint rupture. Usually, when the integrity of the ankle joint is damaged, it is difficult for the patient to move his leg – the movement is accompanied by severe pain. The ligament and nearby tissues become thicker, motor activity is disrupted. Adipose tissue has echogenicity within the normal range, and the affected areas are clearly distinguished against this background.
- With a partial rupture of the ligament, you can see an area with impaired echogenicity, usually reduced — in this case, we are talking about internal hemorrhage and swelling of tissues.
- When the tendons are torn, a hypoechoic region (a zone of reduced echogenicity) is visible. It is possible to note the presence of an abnormally large amount of fluid. There is a significant disruption of the course of the fibers, their discontinuity. Effusion accumulates in the synovial region.
- With tendinitis, there is an accumulation of effusion, but without violations of the structure of the tendon itself, the tendon itself has no structural changes. Most often in such situations, the diagnosis of tendosynovitis is established.
- With rheumatism, an ultrasound examination clearly determines the change in size, the contours become blurry, the joints narrow significantly.
- Hygromas are often detected during ultrasound examination: they are limited in extent, the edges are rounded, the contours are fuzzy.
- After the joint surgery, ligatures with impaired echogenicity are noted during the diagnosis. The transition of the acute stage of the pathological process to the chronic one has some features: the structure of the tendon is heterogeneous, sometimes granular.
Remember that early access to a specialist significantly increases the chance of a full recovery without the risk of relapse. When making serious diagnoses, the patient may be referred for repeated diagnostic manipulations, for example, CT or MRI.