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Your doctor will ask about your hip (your symptoms and how the pain started, for how long, etc.) and perform an examination. He or she will move your hips and legs in different positions to assess your range of motion and evaluate the positions where your hip hurts. To confirm a diagnosis you will likely get X-rays of your hip. Learn more about X-rays.
Often, you may undergo a special type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) called magnetic resonance arthrography (MRA). Magnetic resonance arthrography (MRA) is a noninvasive, non-irradiating imaging technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to evaluate your hip. While X-rays show bones well, the MRI is particularly good at showing the non-bony structures of the body, such as the labrum and articular carilage. Further, while X-rays are like looking at shadows, the MRI allows evaluation of the tissues around the hip in slices (like slices of bread as opposed to seeing the whole loaf without what is inside) and allows viewing from different views.
During magnetic resonance arthrography, dye (contrast material) is injected into the joint space to help make images more clear. Frequently, local anesthetic (numbing medicine) is added to the contrast material to help determine if the pain is coming from inside the joint. The MRI will also help eliminate certain causes of non FAI hip pain including avascular necrosis (dead bone) and tumors.
Sometimes your physician may order a CT or CAT scan. This study can help understand the exact shape of the bones of the hip, but not essential to the diagnosis of FAI. It is a balance of the relatively large amount of radiation to the pelvis/reproductive region due to the CT scan with the amount of information obtained. This concern of additional radiation is especially important when 3-D CT scans are performed, which are particularly good at giving the doctor an very realistic perspective of the shape of the bone. Learn more about CT scan.