Doctors may use imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, and arthrograms to diagnose the cause of hip pain in a patient. This video provides an overview of diagnostic imaging tests for hip pain.
A radiograph is also known as an X-ray, where it is a picture of the bones. It does not show a good evaluation of the soft tissue. The diagnosis of hip osteoarthritis is made based upon radiographic findings (what we see on an X-ray) it can tell us not only if there is the presence of arthritis but also the degree of that type of arthritis.
When we’re looking at any kind of muscle, ligament, tendon, or any kind of soft tissue injury, then we will usually order an MRI. If there’s any suspicion of another source for the hip pain, for example the back, then we will order an MRI of the lower back, more specifically the lumbosacral spine.
If we are suspicious for any type of tear in the cartilage of the hip joint, also known as a hip labral tear, then a specific test for that would be to do a MRI with an arthrogram. We can put a little bit of lidocaine, which is an anesthetic, into the hip joint. That is both diagnostic as well as therapeutic after seeing if the lidocaine made any difference in any patient symptoms.