Musculoskeletal X-ray - General principles
Joint anatomy

Key points

  • Knowledge of soft tissue structures surrounding a joint can be as important as knowledge of bone structures

Most joints are synovial and comprise two articulating bones lined with hyaline cartilage and contained by a synovial lined capsule.

Although soft tissues such as cartilage and capsular structures are of low density, and so are less well-defined on X-ray images, it is a mistake to think they are not visible.

Joint anatomy example - Knee

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Joint anatomy example - Knee

  • Certain peri-articular soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons, or
    even cartilaginous structures such as the meniscus, can be seen on X-ray
  • If there is narrowing of a joint - this implies abnormal thinning of cartilage

Page author: Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust UK (Read bio)

Last reviewed: July 2019