Journal of shoulder and elbow surgery

Are radiologists superior to orthopaedic surgeons in diagnosing instability-related shoulder lesions on magnetic resonance arthrography? A multicenter reproducibility and accuracy study.

PMID 26175312


We compared the diagnostic reproducibility and accuracy of musculoskeletal radiologists with orthopaedic shoulder surgeons in 2 large medical centers in assessing magnetic resonance arthrograms (MRAs) of patients with traumatic anterior shoulder instability. Forty-five surgically confirmed MRAs were assessed by 4 radiologists, 4 orthopaedic surgeons, 2 radiologic teams, and 2 orthopaedic teams. During MRA assessment and surgery, the same 7-lesion scoring form was used. κ Coefficients, sensitivity, specificity, and differences in percentage of agreement or correct diagnosis (P < .05, McNemar test) were calculated per lesion and overall per the 7 lesion types. The overall κ between the individual radiologists (κ = 0.51, κ = 0.46) and orthopaedic surgeons (κ = 0.46, κ = 0.41) was moderate. Although the overall percentage of agreement between the radiologists was slightly higher than that between the orthopaedic surgeons in both centers (80.0% vs 77.5% and 75.2% vs 73.7%), there was no significant difference. In each medical center, however, the most experienced orthopaedic surgeon was exceedingly more accurate than both radiologists per the 7 lesion types (81.9% vs 72.4%/74.6% and 76.5% vs 67.3%/73.7%). In 3 of 4 cases, this difference was significant. Overall accuracy improvement through consensus assessment was merely established for the weakest member of each team. Experienced orthopaedic surgeons are more accurate than radiologists in assessing traumatic anterior shoulder instability-related lesions on MRA. In case of diagnosis disagreement, these orthopaedic surgeons should base their treatment decision on their own MRA interpretation.