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Orthopedic Diagnosis

Getting to the Source of Your Pain – Fast.


About Orthopedic Testing & Diagnosis at Aurora

Our advanced orthopedic imaging allows doctors to create detailed pictures of your bones and joints to put you on the road to recovery.

Doctors use a variety of tests to evaluate orthopedic conditions and diagnose injuries. At Aurora, our orthopedic specialists use minimally invasive test procedures whenever possible. In fact, many of our orthopedic tests and imaging procedures are completely painless.

When you come in for your appointment, your orthopedic specialist will give you a physical exam and review your medical history. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may refer you for orthopedic imaging or additional tests.

After your tests, your doctor may give you the results right away, call you, or have you schedule a follow up visit to review the results.

The Aurora Difference

Leading-Edge Orthopedic Diagnosis & Testing Capabilities

As one of the largest regional health care providers in Wisconsin, Aurora offers access to a vast network of diagnosis and imaging capabilities. People choose us for orthopedic tests and imaging because we offer:

  • Efficient injury diagnosis: We make it easy to get an appointment for evaluation, often in as little as one day. Many of our doctors keep time slots open throughout the week for same-day appointments so you can get an injury diagnosis as quickly as possible.
  • Seamless care: Our imaging specialists share X-ray, MRI and other test results directly with your doctor, so you don’t have to track down images for appointments. Our orthopedists coordinate with primary care doctors, physical therapists and holistic care specialists to improve and streamline your care. Find out more about orthopedic medicine and orthopedic surgery at Aurora.
  • Deep orthopedic expertise: We have a large team of doctors who specialize in different aspects of orthopedics, including sports health and orthopedic oncology (cancer treatment). Many of them also specialize in certain conditions or areas of the body, giving them the expertise to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

Images & Tests

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a painless test that uses magnets and radio waves to create 3-D images of your body. Doctors often use MRI to visualize soft tissues like muscles, as well as the ligaments and tendons that join muscles and bones.

During the MRI, you’ll lie on a narrow table that slides into a tunnel-shaped machine. The test may last up to an hour. If you have a problem with confined spaces, we’ll provide medication to help you feel more relaxed.

Before your MRI, tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or suspect you might be pregnant so he or she can take appropriate precautions or recommend an alternative imaging test. Also let your doctor know if you have any type of metal inside your body, including:

  • A pacemaker, implantable defibrillator or artificial heart valves
  • Metal plates, pins or joint prosthetics
  • Cochlear implants
  • Metal fragments, such as shrapnel or a bullet

These items pose a safety risk during an MRI. If you do, your doctor will recommend a different imaging test.

MRI Arthrogram

An MRI arthrogram is an imaging test that gives doctors detailed images of your joints. It’s a 2-step test where a radiologist injects a special contrast dye into your joint before taking an MRI.

Step 1

Injecting a contrast dye makes it easier to visualize the details of your joints so doctors can better identify problems and injuries.

During your arthrogram, your doctor will use a numbing medication with the injection to minimize any pain you feel. Live imaging on an X-ray machine will help the radiologist guide the injection to the right location. This part of the test takes about 30 minutes.

Step 2

After your arthrogram, you’ll undergo an MRI to take images of the inside of your joint.

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

A computerized tomography (CT) scan is a test that uses X-rays and computer imaging to create cross-section or “slice” images of the body. This provides many different views of the same part of the body, and offers more detailed information than regular X-rays.

During a CT scan, you’ll lie still on a narrow table that slides into a donut-shaped machine. The machine makes a clicking noise as it takes images.

The process takes up to an hour. You may need to avoid eating or drinking the day of your CT scan.

Notify your radiologist if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant. While X-rays deliver very small doses of radiation to the body, your doctor may instead recommend another test or take special precautions.

3-D CT Scan

A 3-D CT scan is similar to a regular CT scan in terms of the procedure itself and the preparation. The main difference is that a 3-D CT scan provides images in 3 dimensions.


An X-ray is a painless imaging procedure that provides detailed images of your bones and internal structures called radiographs. During an X-ray, you’ll lie still on a table while a technician takes images. The test takes only a few minutes.

X-rays expose your body to small amounts of radiation. For most people, the benefits of X-rays outweigh the risks. However, you should tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or think you may be pregnant so they can take special precautions.


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