The vast majority of actions that occur in your body happen out of sight. When injuries and illness develop, experts can make educated guesses about the problem based on your symptoms and what they can see from the outside—but for an accurate diagnosis, they generally need to be able to see what’s going on inside your body. Fortunately, medical science has come a long way, so specialists like Dr. Evan Merrill are able to use advanced imaging technology to take detailed pictures and make accurate diagnoses.
These diagnostic procedures are used to check for many things, including fractures, tissue tears, inflammation, misaligned structures, unusual growths, and more. The various technologies can be used separately or together to get more accurate pictures, depending on the structures being evaluated. Some are better at certain tissues than others. However, all are extremely useful to be able to see what areas of your feet are being affected when you have a problem.
Computed Tomography—This imaging technology is better known as a CT scan. An X-ray beam rotates around the body part being imaged, rapidly and repeatedly taking pictures in thin slices. Once the area has been completely covered, the doctor has a series of detailed pictures that can be looked at individually for problems or can be stacked to create a 3-D image.
X-rays—Since they were discovered and applied to medicine, X-rays have been consistently used as diagnostic tools. For dense tissues like bones, they take excellent and accurate pictures. The beams are passed through your body and shot directly onto film or digital sensors, depending on the machine. Some rays are absorbed by your body tissues, creating outlines of the denser areas that can be viewed in the picture.
MRI—Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, uses powerful magnetic fields to take extremely detailed pictures of organs and tissues. The magnetic field temporarily realigns hydrogen atoms in your body, which can then be read by radio waves. The cross-section images can be viewed in a series, or layered to create a 3-D image.
Ultrasound—This uses high-frequency sound waves to create a picture of structures in your body. The waves are directed at your tissues, which bounce them back to be read by the machine. The responses are displayed as images for the technician to record. Because this does not involve any sort of radiation, it does not come with the same risks of other imaging technologies.
All of these diagnostic procedures are safe and have improved over the years with continued technological advancements. For your feet, this means Dr. Evan Merrill is able to get a closer look at potential damage and can more accurately diagnose your condition and recommend treatment. Our office maintains multiple imaging machines, so you are evaluated with the most up-to-date and accurate techniques available. If you’re experiencing foot and ankle pain, don’t ignore it. Instead, contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. in Medford for an appointment or more information to discover the source of your discomfort and begin the path to recovery. Visit our online contact page or call (541) 776-3338 to reach us.