Rheumatology: Musculoskeletal Ultrasound

In the hands of trained rheumatologists, musculoskeletal ultrasound is a powerful diagnostic tool. The George Washington University Division of Rheumatology is the only academic division of rheumatology in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area with several physicians who have been certified by the American College of Rheumatology in Musculoskeletal Ultrasound (RhMSUS) to perform diagnostic and therapeutic musculoskeletal ultrasound.

What is Musculoskeletal Ultrasound?

Musculoskeletal Ultrasound is a completely safe, noninvasive imaging modality that uses sound waves to create an image of the joint and surrounding tendons and ligaments.

How does it work?

Most commonly, we use the ultrasound to evaluate joint pain and swelling in the comfort of our clinic. Using our dedicated musculoskeletal ultrasound, we can diagnose fluid around the joint, tears in ligaments, tendons, and visualize bone spurs and uric acid deposits. Since ultrasound can characterize soft tissue structures (not just bones), it is a superior imaging modality to X-ray. Additionally, our skilled team of physicians use ultrasound to directly guide joint aspirations and medication injections.

What are the benefits?

Scientific research shows that earlier diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis results in improved outcomes and less likelihood of irreversible joint damage. Using state-of-the-art ultrasound probes, our physicians are able to diagnose and treat inflammatory arthritis earlier, minimizing delays in diagnosis and ultimately improving clinical outcomes for our patients.

In sports and soft tissue injuries musculoskeletal ultrasound offers a safe and accurate alternative to MRI to diagnose rotator cuff disease of the shoulder, bursitis and tendonitis. Additionally, our rheumatologists are trained to administer therapeutic injections under ultrasound guidance improving efficacy resulting in decreased pain and better outcomes.

When should it be used?

Musculoskeletal ultrasound is well suited for imaging in situations when patients have limited mobility or when patients cannot tolerate other imaging modalities such as MRI.

What procedures can be performed with musculoskeletal ultrasound guidance?


  • Aspiration of joint fluid (Arthrocentesis)
  • Injection of medications such as cortisone
  • Baker’s cyst aspiration


  • Tendinitis
  • Early diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis
  • Diagnosis of rotator cuff tear and other tendon injuries.
  • Intra-articular hip injection
  • Trigger finger injection