Learn the steps a doctor will take to diagnose an unhappy triad
If you potentially think you may have an unhappy triad injury and have torn your ACL, meniscus, and MCL, you should immediately visit your doctor for an official diagnosis. This is a serious injury and needs to be treated immediately or it can get worse. Normally a doctor will perform multiple tests to determine if in fact you have damaged all three ligaments and confirm you have an unhappy triad injury. This normally includes a physical exam, including multiple torn ACL tests, and likely will also include an MRI and possibly an ultrasound or x-ray. In cases where the doctor struggles to diagnose your injury using these tests, sometimes an arthroscopic test is used and a camera is inserted into your knee through a small incision to evaluate the damage to the knee and confirm an unhappy triad.
Imaging Tests To Diagnose an Unhappy Triad
Doctors will normally use three imaging tests to determine if you have an unhappy triad. The three most common tests are with an MRI, x-ray, and ultrasound. This helps the doctor to verify the injury and explore the exact location and size of the tears so they can determine the best treatment plan.
- MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging, commonly known as an MRI, is the most frequently used test to determine if someone has an unhapy triad. The doctor is able to get a look at the MCL, ACL, and meniscus using the MRI and can identify the location and size of any tears. It allows them to look at both soft and hard tissue as well.
- Ultrasound: The second imaging test that a doctor may use to diagnose an unhappy triad is an ultrasound. An ultrasound allows the doctor to see the knee while it is moving which can be helpful to identify some tears, especially a torn meniscus.
- X-Ray: Finally, a doctor may use an x-ray to diagnose an unhappy triad. The x-ray is used to eliminate the possibility of other injuries like broken bones. It will not show the doctor anything related to the torn ACL, MCL, or meniscus since it only shows bone, but is a good way to rule out other injuries.
Arthroscopic Tests to Diagnose an Unhappy Triad
In very rare circumstances, a dcotor may have to use an arthroscopic camera to diagnose an unhappy triad and the extent of the damage. The camera is inserted through a small incision and allows the doctor to fully explore the knee and any damage that occurred.