Some hand conditions need to be diagnosed through surgery, depending on what is causing
the condition. In general, a hand condition may need the following procedures to
help in the diagnosis:
In some cases, a diagnosis can be made simply based on a physical exam. But you may
need the following tests to help confirm the diagnosis, or the extent of the problem:
Arthrography. A contrast dye is injected into the hand to allow the doctor to better see the joints
Bone scintigraphy. A dye is injected into a vein, and images are taken to show how the dye has entered various
tissues and structures. The study is usually done in phases. Images of the hand are
taken at different times after the dye is injected.
CT scan. This test uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. It can
look at the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general
Electromyogram (EMG). This test measures the electrical activity of a muscle or a group of muscles. An EMG
can detect abnormal electrical muscle activity caused by diseases and nervous system
MRI. This test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images
of organs and structures within the body. It allows the doctor to see the tendons,
ligaments, vessels, and nerves in the hand.
Ultrasound (also called sonography). This imaging test uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to make images of
blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Ultrasounds are used to see internal organs as
they function. It can see blood flow through various vessels. In the hand, ultrasound
is useful for finding fluid collections, such as cysts.
Video fluoroscopy. This test lets your doctor see how your hand moves by recording the movement on video for
repeated viewing. A fluoroscope is a device that takes an X-ray. The image is displayed
on a screen.
X-ray. This test uses invisible energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and