Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

Mother fell and hurt her arm last night. My husband just took her to the emergency room for X-rays. She is in a lot of pain and can't get out of her wheelchair very easily. How in the world can they get an X-ray in a case like this?

Answer:

X-ray technicians face many challenges everyday getting unusual and difficult X-rays. X-ray equipment is much more versatile than in the past. The camera used to take the image can be moved into a wide range of positions and angles.

Even so, the shoulder can be a special problem. Good X-rays can be difficult to get if the patient can't move easily or if he or she is in extreme pain. The good news is that there is a new position used for shoulders that's been around for the last five or six years.

It's called the wheelchair axillary view. The patient remains in his or her wheelchair or they can sit on a standard chair. The arm is moved away from the body slightly. The X-ray plate is placed under the arm between the elbow and the side of the body.

The technician should be able to get a good image in this seated position. It will show fractures, dislocations, and any damage to the joint surface. The patient doesn't have to be moved and can usually hold the arm in this position easily even if there is a serious injury. Howard Routman, DO. The Wheelchair Axillary View of the Shoulder. In Orthopedics. April 2007. Vol. 30. No. 4. Pp. 265-266.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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