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Multiple laboratory-based neuromuscular diagnostic techniques are referenced throughout this text. Although typically ordered and interpreted by physicians, knowledge of when these techniques are indicated, what conditions they identify, and basic interpretation techniques are valuable clinical skills. Table 5-1 presents an overview of the techniques discussed in this chapter and their most common uses.

Table 5-1Selected Diagnostic Techniques and Their Use

Imaging Techniques

Radiographs, magnetic resonance images (MRIs), computed tomography (CT), bone scans, and diagnostic ultrasounds are collectively referred to as diagnostic imaging. They are obtained by exposing the body to electromagnetic energy, or in the case of diagnostic ultrasound, acoustical energy, and determining how much of that energy is absorbed by the body, is reflected, or passes through the tissues. Most imaging techniques use a source (generator) that transmits the energy to the body and a collector that captures energy that has not been absorbed or scattered. From this, two- or three-dimensional images are constructed.

To obtain the clearest images of the involved structure(s), the diagnostic energy must strike the body from a specific direction and angle. Energy may pass from the anterior through the posterior tissues (anteroposterior [AP]), posterior to anterior (posteroanterior [PA]) or from a left or right lateral projection. The patient and generator may be aligned so that the energy strikes the body at a right angle, or images may be obtained using an oblique or acute angle (Fig. 5-1).


Patient positioning for common radiographic imaging series. ...

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