Friday, 4 October 2013

Ankle ultrasound at Vision Xray Group (4th October 2013)

I had a mild ankle sprain during my recent snowboarding trip in Queenstown - it happened early in the trip (possibly due to not tightening my new boots sufficiently) and there was a bit of swelling around the left ankle and tenderness but was fine when it was locked in place inside the snowboard boot so I continued snowboarding for the entire trip and wore a support when the boot was removed. It has been several weeks since and my ankle still doesn't feel quite right; it felt as if it needed 'oiling' so the joint could move more smoothly, and the ankle gets a bit sore if I walked for too long, neither of which seemed normal to me. After much thought, I decided to see the doctor about this niggling ankle who referred me to a medical imaging centre in the city for an ultrasound to see how severe the injury was. Frankly, I've seen quite enough of doctors and medical folk in the last few weeks due to my fractured wrist but I just want to be well and 'fix' whatever isn't - pile on the medical sessions...

Around lunchtime yesterday, I headed over to Vision Xray Group on Macquarie Street for my ultrasound appointment. Vision Xray Group is an independent, wholly radiologist owned medical imaging practice with several locations in NSW and provides services including general xray, ultrasound, mammography, CT scanning and MRI . Shortly after completing a patient form at reception, I was called by an ultrasound technologist (person who conducts the ultrasound examination) and followed her to the examination room. "Take off your shoes and lie down," said the technologist as she prepared the machine and I proceeded as requested, taking in my surroundings at the same time. The room was exactly how I pictured it to be, much similar to those seen on TV, often a scene of a pregnant lady on the bed, both her and the technologist looking fondly at images of the baby on the screen. Only difference was we weren't looking for any babies but conducting a musculoskeletal ultrasound to look at the structure of my ankle and identify any abnormal areas. Not quite how I imagined my first ultrasound to be...

I was totally bracing myself for the cold ultrasound gel on my skin when the technologist began to squirt it onto my ankle but surprisingly it was soothingly warm - I guess they use gel warmers here to give patients more comfort. Used together with a probe, images of the structure of my ankle appeared on screen. The ultrasound technologist was not much of a talker (I tried to make conversation but it never got very far), busying herself with the examination, slathering on more gel as needed and pushing the probe all around my ankle, taking snapshots along the way during the 30-minute session. My entire left feet from ankle down was covered in sticky gel by the end of it!

None of the images seen on screen made any sense to me - they were nothing but grainy images to the average eye. There were some that had a black hole in the middle which the technologist marked with the cursor. "Urm, what is that?" I asked. It didn't help that the technologist had the same deadpan look the entire session so there was no indication if the images were normal (or not). The only thing I managed to get out of her was that there was fluid inside my ankle. What? Fluid? How did it get there in the first place?? Whatever does that mean?! "The doctor will send the report to your doctor," was all she said and sent me on my way back to reception to wait for the film. Brilliant, now I have to make another appointment to see my doctor for the results. Sigh, when WILL all these medical visits end? No payment was required for the ultrasound (bulk billed to Medicare) which was some consolation. Images taken from the ultrasound on the film I took home:



Earlier today, I went to see my doctor for the results and was informed the radiologist who reviewed the images has found that I have a small effusion in the tibiotalar joint. The good news is that my ligaments and tendons were intact (no evidence of tear or significant strain) so I would just need to 
elevate my ankle and use a cold pack on it, as well as see the physio for the next couple of weeks. However, if it the symptoms do not subside, further assessment with MRI will be required. I'm seriously hoping the ankle will heal in a few weeks - I want to resume normal function so I can get back to my routine activities and gym. I need my life back!



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