Conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system constitute a significant portion of medical emergencies in the United States, with traumatic injury and infection being two of the most common etiologies. Although physical examination and plain radiographs are often sufficient to guide diagnosis and treatment, there are myriad traumatic and infectious pathologies that are commonly missed or simply not detectable on plain radiographs. Advanced imaging is subsequently warranted for additional workup.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become an increasingly used imaging modality for musculoskeletal complaints in the emergency department due to its superior visualization of soft tissues, focal edematous changes, and occult osseous insults often not visible on plain radiographs. Although multiple studies have evaluated its utility in the workup of emergency musculoskeletal complaints, there remains a dearth of literature examining the use of MRI for certain occult diagnoses.Radiologists, emergency clinicians, and orthopedic surgeons must be knowledgeable of the indications for MRI in the emergency setting, as delayed diagnosis may contribute to increased morbidity and possibly mortality. This review summarizes the use of MRI in diagnoses relating to trauma or infection among patients presenting to the emergency department with a musculoskeletal complaint.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging