When you have a pain in your foot that is not caused by an obvious injury, the foot doctors at Central Jersey Ankle & Foot Care Specialists, Dr. Christopher J. Mullin, Dr. Jessica A. Addeo and Dr. Rajan Patel, use various diagnostic tools to look for the cause of your discomfort. Sometimes, the symptoms of one foot disorder may mimic those of another and it’s important to nail down the correct diagnosis because treatment may be very different for the two conditions. Imaging tools allow podiatrists to see deep into your foot. Here are the most commonly used imaging tools:
X-rays—This test allows podiatrists to get a look at the bones of your toes, feet and ankles. X-rays (which can be done right in our Aberdeen office) can reveal fractures, foreign objects, abnormal bone growth or a misalignment or deformity in the bones of the foot. Oftentimes the foot doctor will want to rule out a fracture which can cause the same pain and swelling as a sprain or nerve condition.
Computed Tomography (CT)—Computed tomography (CT) allows podiatrists to get a three-dimensional cross section view of specific areas of your foot or ankle. A CT scan gives a more in-depth picture than an x-ray and can also reveal problems in soft tissue structures of the foot.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)—A key difference between a CT scan, X-ray and MRI is that the MRI does not use radiation in its imaging process. Magnetic fields and radio waves are used instead and produce a three dimensional image that can help the foot doctor visualize the progression of diseases, such as arthritis, infections and damage to nerves or soft tissues. MRI’s take longer to perform, anywhere from about 45 to 90 minutes. Not everyone can have an MRI. Patients with metal implants (found in pacemakers, artificial heart valves, hearing devices, etc.) cannot have this test and the podiatrist will ask about previous medical procedures before ordering this imaging study.
Ultrasound—Using sound waves to create an image of a specific body part, ultrasound is used to view problems with ligaments, tendons and cartilage in the feet and ankles. Ultrasound is also helpful in detecting abnormal growths in soft tissue.