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How are x-rays used to diagnose knee and hip problems?

Scott D. Martin, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
A standard x-ray, the most commonly used imaging technique, gives a two-dimensional picture of the bones in your joints. X-rays can show bone fractures, spurs, loose fragments, dislocation, reduced space between bones, and bone damage from arthritis. But standard x-rays don't show cartilage, ligaments, or tendons; seeing these requires more sophisticated imaging techniques. For a standard x-ray of the knee, you may be asked to lie down or stand while a technician takes several views with your knee in different positions. For a hip x-ray, you will probably be asked to lie down. Even if only one knee or hip causes you problems, your doctor may order x-rays of both to compare the appearance of the joint and joint space.

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