Real Time Ultrasound (RTUS)


Real Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy

Real time ultrasound (RTUS) is an imaging technique helpful in the assessment and retraining of muscles. It allows visualisation of muscle contractions as they happen, either when the body is at rest or during an activity. It is most commonly used in a physiotherapy setting to assess the muscles that provide spinal stability (AKA your core muscles!).

Why is Real Time Ultrasound helpful?

Have you ever tried to contract a muscle and wondered if you were doing it right? Real time ultrasound can show you if you are using your muscles correctly (or not using them at all!).

We use the machine to observe:

  • the ability to contract a muscle
  • the quality of a muscle contraction
  • the pattern of activation

Furthermore, we can then observe and assess your ability to maintain a contraction while breathing, moving, sitting and standing. All this collaborated information allows your physiotherapist to determine whether or not your muscles are doing a good enough job of supporting you. If they aren’t, it is likely to be a contributing factor to the problem you have come to see your physiotherapist about.

What conditions benefit from RTUS assessment?

  • Low back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Incontinence
  • Women’s health
  • Men’s health
  • Weak core
  • Lower limb pain

What should I expect during my RTUS assessment?

Depending on what condition is being assessed, your physiotherapist will most likely be looking at up to three main sections of your core stabilisers:


  • Pelvic floor – Ultrasound probe placed above your pelvic bone
  • Transversus abdominis – Ultrasound probe placed on your stomach
  • Multifidus – Ultrasound probe placed on your lower back

Using gel on the probe to transmit the ultrasound waves, your physiotherapist will be able to visualise these muscles. Please wear appropriate clothing to allow the physiotherapist access to these areas. Your modesty will be maintained at all times. If you have any concerns, please discuss them with your physiotherapist at your earliest convenience.