Radiology (Xray)

Ultrasound Musculoskeletal Scan

Contact: Freeman Hospital: (0191) 223 1012 Royal Victoria Infirmary: (0191)282 5626

What is an musculoskeletal ultrasound scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • An ultrasound scan is a non-invasive method of producing detailed images of the inside of your body using high frequency sound waves. 
  • The sound waves are at a pitch that is too high to be heard by the human ear.  A computer converts the information into a moving picture that is displayed on a monitor and can be stored electronically. 
  • Musculoskeletal refers to the parts of your body that we will be scanning which includes the muscles, tendons, joints and soft tissues.

Why do I need a musculoskeletal ultrasound?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • The medical team caring for you need more information about what is happening inside you. They have asked specialists in the radiology department to undertake an ultrasound scan to give a clearer picture of what is going on. This information is used to decide the best form of treatment.

Who performs the musculoskeletal ultrasound?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Your scan will be performed by either a radiologist (medical doctor who specialises in interpreting diagnostic imaging) or a sonographer who is specially trained in ultrasound scanning.  Whoever performs your scan, they will explain what happens and will show you what to do.

What preparation will I need?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Usually none.  Printed instructions will be included in your appointment letter should any preparation be required.

I have diabetes. Does this change anything?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • No. You can eat and drink as normal and take your usual medication.

What does the examination involve?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • On arrival you may be asked to remove some of your clothing and put on a hospital gown.  In many cases you will not have to undress completely but will be asked to remove clothing from the area being examined during the scan.
  • Once in the examination room, you will lie on a couch or be seated on a chair next to the ultrasound machine. 
  • The radiologist or sonographer will perform the scan by placing a small amount of clear gel onto the skin and gently running a small probe, like a microphone, over the skin surface. 
  • You may be asked to change your position slightly or hold your breath from time to time.

How long will the scan take?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Each examination is different and may take between 15 and 30 minutes to complete.

How does it feel?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • In order to perform your scan it will be necessary to apply a small amount of gel to the skin surface in the area being examined.  This gel dissolves in water and will not stain your clothing. The procedure may be a little uncomfortable but should not be painful 

What are the benefits of having a musculoskeletal ultrasound?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • This examination will help towards making the correct diagnosis regarding your signs/symptoms so that you can receive the best treatment.

What are the risks of having a musculoskeletal ultrasound?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Ultrasound is considered to be a harmless method of investigating the body. There are no known side-effects from diagnostic ultrasound scanning.

When will I get the results?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Normally you can expect to receive the results of your scan when you next see the doctor who sent you for the examination.  After your examination, the radiologist or sonographer who performed the scan will study the pictures taken during your examination.  A report is then prepared and this is sent to your doctor who asked for the examination within two weeks of the ultrasound scan.

Can I drive home?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Yes.

I need an ambulance/ transport. Do you arrange it?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • If you need an ambulance/ transport, you should ask your GP Surgery to arrange it. You will need to give them three working days’ notice.  Please note that hospital transport is provided on medical need only.

What if I have other questions?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • If you have any questions, doubts or worries, please ask the Radiologist or sonographer who is performing your scan. The radiology staff want to make you feel as relaxed as possible.  This makes the scan easier for you and means that we get better images to aid your diagnosis. 
  • This is a teaching hospital and we sometimes have junior medical staff and trainees in our department.  Trainees and junior staff may be present at the time of your examination.  If you are uncomfortable with this arrangement, please inform the ultrasound staff at the time of your appointment.  This will not affect your care or treatment in any way.

What if I cannot attend for my appointment? Show [+]Hide [-]

  • If your appointment time is not convenient please contact the hospital department so that a more appropriate time can be arranged. This will enable us to reallocate valuable scanning time to someone else:
  • RVI X-ray Appointments               0191 282 4330 (Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.00pm)
  • Freeman X-ray Appointments     0191 223 1012 (Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.00pm)

What if I have any questions, suggestions or complaints?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • Should you have any suggestions or concerns, please make these known to the person conducting your examination or by letter addressed to the hospital that you are attending your examination:
  • The Departmental Manager, X-ray Department, Level 3, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LP
  • The Departmental Manager, Main X-ray Department, Freeman Hospital, High Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7DN
  • Tel: 0191 282 1099
  • Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm
  • All Newcastle Hospitals: Switchboard tel: 0191 233 6161 (24 hours)
  • The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can offer on-the-spot advice and information about the NHS. You can contact them on freephone 0800 032 02 02 or email
  • Information produced by:  Dr A Karsandas, Consultant Radiologist and Mr Brian Allan, Regional Ultrasound Manager

Diagnostic Imaging DatasetShow [+]Hide [-]

  • Information from your diagnostic test will contribute to the Diagnostic Imaging Dataset. 
  • The Diagnostic Imaging Dataset (DID) is a database that holds information on the imaging tests and scans carried out on NHS patients. This will allow the Health and Social Care Information Centre to see how different tests are used across the country.
  • Nothing will ever be reported that identifies you.  All information is stored securely. It is only made available to appropriate staff, and is kept strictly confidential. However, if you do not want your information to be stored in the DID, please tell the people who are treating you. They will make sure your information is not copied into the DID.
  • You may, at a later date, still decide to opt out.  Please contact the Health and Social Care Information Centre directly, their contact details are:
  • Telephone: 0845 300 6016 
  • Email: 
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