Ultrasound examination of joints in childhood

Due to the high efficiency and sensitivity of ultrasound technique, it can visualize pathological joint abnormalities appropriately. By means of this  examination, signs of arthritis, the extent and nature of abnormal joint fluid accumulations, thickness of cartilage in some areas and possible tendon raptures can be imaged.


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What diseases can most often affect children’s joints?

  • Arthritis

Inflammation of the joints may be caused by pathogens or defects with non-infectious origin, the most common of which are autoimmune diseases (e.g. JIA – juvenile idiopathic arthritis, SLE – systemic lupus erythematosus), but they also include the so-called transient coxitis (transient hip joint inflammation) which is very common in childhood. Inflammation can affect only one, or in some cases even more joints. The attacked joint is typically swollen, painful and has limited or lost motility. The skin around the joint is often reddish in colour and inflamed. In case of an infectious origin, symptoms are often accompanied by fever. By sonography, the accumulated joint fluid associated with the inflammation can then be visualized effectively.

  • Injury

In truma, while X-rays can efficiently visualize bone fractures, ultrasound can image the soft tissues of joints. This technique can give an idea of the possible damage to the cartilage surfaces, the soundness of the articular ligament system, and we can judge whether there is a hematoma in the joint cavity. However, it is important to emphasize that minor injuries cannot be often detected by sonography; in such cases additional imaging technique (MR) may be suggested.

When is it necessary to take the child for joint sonography?

If the child has pain in the joint, it is recommended to take him/her for an ultrasound examination. In the case of younger children who cannot speak yet, signs like a swollen joint, which hurts to touch, and red skin around it can call the parents’ attention to a possible defect in the joint. The child spares the affected joint and minimizes its motion. If the above symptoms are associated with fever, consult a doctor immediately about your child’s condition!

How is ultrasound examination of the joints performed?

The examination is fast, painless and safe, it can be repeated in unlimited numbers. Sonography has no harmful effect even on the child’s developing body, so it can be performed at any age.


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