FAQ: Test & Treatment Definitions


What is an X-ray?

An X-ray is a procedure that uses a safe form of radiation to provide a two-dimensional picture of your body to use as a screening tool in order to evaluate for causes of many common disorders, such as bone breaks, joint and spine injuries or conditions, and arthritis or osteoporosis.  


What is an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, commonly referred to as an MRI, is an advanced technology that uses magnetic fields and radio waves (like microwaves and the AM and FM bands on your radio) to visualize the inner workings of the body. The pictures produced by the MRI help the radiologist clearly and accurately detect and define the differences between healthy and diseased tissues, especially in the soft tissues. It can reveal many health problems at their earliest, most treatable stages.

To learn more about what to expect during an MRI, click here.


What is a CT scan?

A computed tomography (CT) scan, also known as CAT scan, produces images that are similar in detail and in quality to an MRI. However, the CT scan takes a 360-degree picture of internal organs and the spine and vertebrae. CT scans provide cross-sectional views of the body and provide clearer imaging than an MRI. 


What is a bone density scan?

A bone density test is used to diagnose osteoporosis, which is a disease that causes weakening of the bones that can ultimately result in fractures.

In the past, osteoporosis could only be detected after a person’s bone had broken. However, by using a bone density test, it is possible to know one’s individual risk of breaking bones before a fracture occurs. A bone density test uses X-rays to measure the amount of calcium and other bone mineral packed into the segment of bone. Common areas that are tested using a bone density scan include the spine, hip, and forearm.


What are NSAIDs?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are nonprescription, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. They are popular treatments for muscular aches and pains, including arthritis, and they aid in reducing swelling, pain, and joint stiffness.


What is an epidural?

An epidural is a steroid injection used to help decrease the inflammation of spinal nerves in order to relieve pain in the neck, back, arms, and legs from conditions such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and radiculopathy. Cortisone is injected directly into the spinal canal, and some patients only need one injection to relieve pain. However, it normally requires two or three injections to provide significant pain relief.


What is a cortisone injection?

Corticosteroids, more commonly referred to as cortisone, is a steroid that is produced in the body naturally. Synthetically produced, it can also be injected into soft tissues and joints to help decrease inflammation. While cortisone is not a pain reliever, pain may diminish as a result of reduced inflammation. In orthopedics, cortisone injections are commonly used as a treatment method for chronic conditions like bursitis, tendinitis, and arthritis to reduce swelling, pain, and joint stiffness.

Orthopedic doctors provide both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options to patients. Many orthopedic conditions, disorders, and injuries can be treated with one or more forms of treatment options. 


What is arthroscopic surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery is a surgical procedure that is commonly performed to diagnose and treat problems within the joint. By using high-tech cameras, the orthopedic surgeon inserts a small instrument, called an arthroscope, into the joint. The arthroscope contains a fiber optic light source and small camera that allow the surgeon to view the joint on a television monitor and diagnose the problem, determine the extent of injury, and make any necessary repairs.


What is a fusion?

A fusion is a procedure in which bones are fused together with bone grafts and internal devices (such as metal rods and screws) to heal into a single solid bone.


What is internal fixation?

Internal fixation is a treatment to hold pieces of a broken bone in the correct position with metal plates, pins, or screws while the bone is healing.


What is joint replacement surgery?

Joint replacement surgery is a surgical procedure that is performed to replace an arthritic or damaged joint with a new, artificial joint, called a prosthesis. Joint replacements can be performed on every joint in the body but are most commonly performed in the knee, hip, shoulder, and elbow.

Joints contain cartilage—a soft, rubbery, gel-like coating on the ends of bones—that protects joints and facilitates movement, and over time (or if the joint has been injured), the cartilage wears away and the bones of the joint start rubbing together. As the bones rub together, bone spurs may form, and the joint becomes stiff and painful. Most people undergo joint replacement surgery when they can no longer control the pain with medication and other treatments and the pain is significantly interfering with their lives.


What is osteotomy?

Osteotomy is a procedure to correct a bone deformity by cutting and repositioning the bone.


What is soft tissue repair?

Soft tissue repair is a treatment to mend or fix soft tissues, such as tendons or ligaments.


What is outpatient surgery? 

An outpatient surgery is a surgery that does not require the patient to stay in the hospital overnight; it is commonly known as an ambulatory surgery. Outpatient surgery has grown in popularity due to the improvement in technology and the rise in outpatient surgery centers, known as ambulatory surgery centers (ASC). 


What is an ambulatory surgery center (ASC)?

An ambulatory surgery center (ASC), also known as an outpatient surgery center or same-day surgery center, is a healthcare facility where surgical procedures that don't require an overnight hospital stay are performed. The type of procedures performed in ASCs are broad in scope. However, several orthopedic procedures done today are performed in ASCs.

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