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Musculoskeletal ultrasound of the hip

Mederic M Hall, MD
Sathish Rajasekaran, MD
Section Editor
Karl B Fields, MD
Deputy Editor
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM


Diagnosis of hip region disorders can prove challenging based on history and physical examination alone. Ultrasound has proven to be a useful clinical tool, especially when patient complaints are dynamic in nature (ie, snapping hip), as static imaging is typically unrevealing. Although the relatively deep location of many hip structures creates challenges, appropriate transducer selection and image optimization allows for adequate imaging of many structures.

This topic will describe a systematic approach to complete sonographic evaluation of each hip quadrant. Topics devoted to hip pain and specific hip conditions are found separately. (See "Approach to hip and groin pain in the athlete and active adult" and "Evaluation of the adult with hip pain" and "Approach to hip pain in childhood" and "Musculoskeletal examination of the hip and groin" and "Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (formerly trochanteric bursitis)" and "Hip fractures in adults" and "Evaluation and management of slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE)" and "Osteitis pubis".)


Physical principles and technology of ultrasound are reviewed separately. (See "Basic principles and safety of diagnostic ultrasound in obstetrics and gynecology".)

Below, the advantages and limitations of the ultrasound examination of the hip are reviewed; the general advantages and limitations of musculoskeletal ultrasound are discussed separately. (See "Musculoskeletal ultrasound of the shoulder".)

Ultrasound offers many advantages about the hip. Its superior spatial resolution allows for detailed evaluation of muscle, tendon, and nerve disorders that may not be apparent on other imaging modalities. Mechanical complaints of snapping or clicking can be assessed in real time, and the location of pain can be correlated with precise anatomic structures by palpation with the ultrasound transducer (ie, sonopalpation). Another advantage of ultrasound is the lack of artifact associated with orthopedic hardware, allowing for evaluation of surrounding structures for impingement or irritation.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Apr 06, 2016.
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