Sports Injury Imaging

Even the most skilled athletes in any sport are likely to sustain injuries at some point in their careers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an estimated average of 8.6 million sports and recreation related injuries a year in the U.S. The most frequently injured body areas are:

  • Lower extremities (42%)
  • Upper extremities (30.3%)
  • Head and neck (16.4%)

When sports injuries happen, diagnostic imaging can help doctors quickly and accurately diagnose conditions so patients can begin receiving the appropriate treatment right away. At Optima Diagnostic Imaging in Los Angeles, we provide advanced medical imaging for a range of sports injuries.

Diagnostic Imaging for Sports Injuries

With our state-of-the-art imaging facilities, we can provide doctors with rapid turnaround on expertly-read results. For patients, we offer same-day appointments, flexible scheduling, and a comfortable environment with first-class amenities, such as valet parking, wireless internet, and an onsite gourmet café.

We provide a full range of diagnostic imaging services. Among the most commonly used imaging techniques for sports injuries are:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • Bone scan


X-rays are the most common and widely used diagnostic imaging technique. Electromagnetic radiation is used to produce images of denser tissue, such as bone, inside the body. Bone, tumors, and other dense tissue absorb less radiation and appear white or light on the x-ray. Conversely, soft tissue or a break in a bone allows more radiation to pass through and will appear darker on the film.

In addition to showing bone fractures, x-rays can help physicians determine if more advanced imaging is needed. Even in cases of soft tissue injury, x-rays can provide valuable information about the condition of the joint in the area of the injury.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans are frequently used to diagnose soft-tissue injuries. Unlike x-rays, MRI scans show all the body tissues, including muscles, bone, cartilage, and fat. MRI uses radio waves and magnetic fields, which are not harmful to the body, to produce images.

An MRI may be performed to confirm diagnosis before surgery to repair meniscus tears, labrum (shoulder) tears, and anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures (in ligaments joining the upper leg and lower leg bones). An MRI may be needed to locate a stress fracture, as they do not always show up on x-rays. This type of imaging is the best diagnostic technique for certain types of muscle, ligament, and tendon injuries.

CT Scan

Computed tomography (CT) scans combine computer technology with x-rays for more detailed, cross-sectional images, both horizontally and vertically. They show the bones, muscles, fat, organs, and any part of the body. A dye may be swallowed or injected so the tissues or organs will show up more clearly in the scan.

Concussions and brain injuries are common in football and other contact sports. CT scans are the standard first test for assessing the brain after sports-related head injuries. This type of imaging is also frequently used for diagnosing knee ligament injuries. CT scans are better than MRI for showing small calcifications, fracture lines, subtle bone erosions, loose bodies, and bone mineral destruction or loss.


Advanced technology allows for high-resolution ultrasound images and accurate diagnosis of sports injuries to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bony structure, cartilage, bursa (fluid-filled sac reducing friction at a joint), and subcutaneous tissue (the layer of connective tissue immediately beneath the skin). Demonstrating tissue structure in two-dimensional grayscale images, ultrasound can rapidly depict blood flow in the tissue. It is the preferred method for studying soft tissue lesions dynamically.

Bone Scan

In a bone scan, a radioactive tracer is injected into the bloodstream. The tracer is attracted to bone, particularly in areas where the metabolic rate is high. It gives off radiation as it wears off, and the radiation is detected by a camera. Bone scans are helpful in diagnosing stress fractures, bone infections, osteochondral lesions (injury to the cartilage surface of the large bone in the ankle), and for determining the cause of bone pain when a cause has not yet been found.

Ideal Imaging Services for Patients and Physicians in Los Angeles

At Optima Diagnostic Imaging, we provide state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging, advanced digital electronic medical records, prompt scans, and fast reports, all in comfortable surroundings with first-class amenities for an outstanding patient experience. With our world-class staff and easy scheduling, our facility has become known as one of the top imaging centers in the world.


  • CDC: Sports- and Recreation-related Injury Episodes in the United States, 2011-- 2014

To schedule an appointment at Optima Diagnostic Imaging in Beverly Hills, California please call 877.320.2312 or use our interactive Online Appointment Request Form.