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Diagnostic Imaging: Do I need a scan?

To scan or not to scan? That is the question!

I often ask myself when considering sending for medical imaging -

“Will the results influence the healthcare of my patient?”

The first and most important step when making an accurate diagnosis of an injury or health complaint is to take a thorough medical history and perform a physical examination.

If clinically indicated, medical imaging techniques – including x-ray, ultrasound, CT scans, and MRI – can help assist this process.

We refer for medical imaging to:

-Help with formulating a diagnosis and improve the management of the injury or health condition.

- Rule out ‘nasties’, such as identifying fractures, dislocations, serious soft tissue injury, nerve or vascular injury, bone infections, visceral (organ) pathology, and cancerous lesions.

Will a scan accurately identify the problem?

It is important to appreciate that scans don’t show pain! They also can’t identify the many biological, psychological, social, functional and situational factors that influence pain.

It is essential that the presenting symptoms correlate with the tissue findings seen on image. It is very common for scans to show abnormalities that do not relate to a person’s symptoms.


Just because it shows up on images, doesn’t mean that this is the cause of your pain!

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