extremity MRI
Extremity Magnetic Resonance Imaging Machine

Do I need an MRI to diagnose a quadriceps tendon tear?

Getting an MRI scan performed is essential if you have suffered a quad tendon tear or rupture. Before my quad tear in June of 2007, I have never had any other injuries that needed the use of an MRI machine. When I incurred my first quadriceps tendon rupture, the ER at Overlake Hospital referred me to a specialist to get an MRI done so as to precisely figure out what damage I did to my knee. Since there was no bone damage done as confirmed by the x-ray at the hospital a week prior, I was eager to get this test over and done with.

The first MRI scan that I had looked similar to the one pictured above. I got to sit in a comfy chair and then, with the help of the nurse, I had to place my leg into this giant doughnut hole. It wasn’t easy at first since I had to have my leg completely straight and position it inside this contraption. Once my leg was fully inside I had to sit there for what seemed like forever, but it was around 45 minutes long for the exam to finish.

I was advised that the results would be complete and available later in the day and that I would be informed by my orthopedic surgeon at my next doctor’s office visit. When I arrived back a few days later the doc advised me on what he assumed I had suffered at my first visit, that I not only tore my quadriceps tendon but I fully ruptured the sucker. He then told me about how former President Clinton had the same injury although his was only a partial tear. Great! Lucky me.

Bellevue Bone and Joint use an open extremity unit – one of the most comfortable MRI systems that are available.

Fast forward 6 years later I find myself in the same predicament (how in the hell???), but this time I get the privilege to get an MRI done on not only one leg, nope, this time I get both done. Thankfully Bellevue Bone & Joint upgraded and updated their MRI machine. The MRI unit they have now (pictured above) is what’s called an Open Extremity Unit which is helpful for people who suffer from getting claustrophobia. This was really helpful for me since I was able to just lie down and take a nap for 45 minutes before I had to get re-positioned again for my other leg to get scanned.

If you have never had an MRI scan done before there’s nothing to fear, well except on the price. MRI’s are very expensive – say around $1,500 a pop and that’s sometimes on the cheap end. I’ve heard them being several thousands depending on what is getting scanned. Outside of the high cost, it’s very similar in my opinion as with getting an x-ray except it generally takes a lot longer to finish the scans. If you seek a more detailed explanation on how the scans work you can visit the Wiki definition.

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