Diagnostic Ultrasound: An Essential Tool For Physiotherapists

Published on: 2018/05/28

Dr. Mauris Lebret, P.T. Ph.D. student, Agiradom, University of Grenoble, France

Dr. Anthony Demont, PT MSc Physio Impact Office, Paris, France

Dr. Ayumeric Le Neindre, PT MSc Forcilles Hospital, Paris, France


In many pathological situations, the physiotherapist needs accurate assessment tools to propose the most suitable treatment. Ultrasound was found to be an accurate and reproducible tool compared to conventional tests.

Interest Category

Diagnostic ultrasound, physiotherapy, Emergency medicine

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Diagnostic Ultrasound

Physiotherapists have been using therapeutic ultrasound for decades to repair soft tissue injuries, mainly sports injuries. Now they are branching out to diagnostic ultrasound, as it provides biofeedback to therapist and patients and helps in rehabilitation. Diagnostic ultrasound is preferred by patients as it is non-invasive and inexpensive.

An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves and it is widely used to observe the fetuses developing in the womb. It is a non-invasive medical technique.

Ultrasound is bifurcated into two categories, diagnostic ultrasound, and therapeutic ultrasound.

Diagnostic ultrasound or sonography uses sound frequencies to image organs or structures inside the body. This helps to diagnose medical conditions.

In a diagnostic ultrasound, a transducer sends a directed beam of sound waves into the body. These sound frequencies are above human hearing, above 20KHz, reflects the tissues and organs in the monitor or sonogram. A sonogram is an image produced by diagnostic ultrasound. Diagnostic ultrasound can image the internal structure, thyroid, heart and blood vessels, etc.

Diagnostic ultrasound is also performed internally. An internal probe is attached to the transducer and inserted into a man’s rectum, Similarly, a transvaginal ultrasound is performed to get a better view of woman’s reproductive organs.

Diagnostic ultrasound for physiotherapists

In an intensive care setting, diagnostic ultrasounds help physiotherapists to provide more accurate diagnosis when compared to standard clinical assessments. The use of diagnostic ultrasound helps in clinical decision making with respect to:

  1. Respiratory management,
  2. Limb muscle pathologies and
  3. Therapy interventions.

With diagnostic ultrasound, physiotherapists can get a better view of the spine, which helps them to effectively treat patients with lower back pain.

Therapeutic Ultrasound

In therapeutic ultrasound, very high-frequency sound waves are used to destroy or modify tissues. It can be used for breaking kidney or gallstones, cataract removal, removal of uterine fibroids, tumors or cysts, teeth cleaning, stimulate bone growth, and hemostasis.

More about Diagnostic ultrasound – An effective tool for physiotherapists by Mauris Lebret, Anthony Demont, Aymeric Le Neindre