How is a fracture diagnosed?

  • X-ray: X-ray imaging produces a picture of internal tissues, bones, and organs. Most fractures are diagnosed by using an X-ray.
  • Other tests (usually not needed if the fracture is obvious on X-ray)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI is a procedure that produces a more detailed image. It is usually used for smaller fractures or stress fractures.
  • Bone scan: An agent is injected that binds in the area of the fracture where bone turnover is higher than normal.
  • Computed tomography scan (CT, or CAT scan): a three-dimensional imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce slices, (cross-sectional images), horizontally and vertically, of the body.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/07/2017.


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