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Orthopedics

Characterization of Rotator Cuff Tears: Ultrasound Versus Magnetic Resonance Imaging.


PMID 27755645

Abstract

Ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are both capable of diagnosing full-thickness rotator cuff tears. However, it is unknown which imaging modality is more accurate and precise in evaluating the characteristics of full-thickness rotator cuff tears in a surgical population. This study reviewed 114 patients who underwent arthroscopic repair of a full-thickness rotator cuff tear over a 1-year period. Of these patients, 61 had both preoperative MRI and ultrasound for review. Three musculoskeletal radiologists evaluated each ultrasound and MRI in a randomized and blinded fashion on 2 separate occasions. Tear size, retraction status, muscle atrophy, and fatty infiltration were analyzed and compared between the 2 modalities. Ultrasound measurements were statistically smaller in both tear size (P=.001) and retraction status (P=.001) compared with MRI. The 2 image modalities showed comparable intraobserver reliability in assessment of tear size and retraction status. However, MRI showed greater interobserver reliability in assessment of tear size, retraction status, and atrophy. Independent observers are more likely to agree on measurements of the characteristics of rotator cuff tears when using MRI compared with ultrasound. As tear size increases, the 2 image modalities show greater differences in measurement of tear size and retraction status. Additionally, compared with MRI, ultrasound shows consistently low reliability in detecting subtle, but clinically important, degeneration of the soft tissue envelope. Although it is inexpensive and convenient, ultrasound may be best used to identify a tear, and MRI is superior for use in surgical planning for larger tears. [Orthopedics. 2017; 40(1):e124-e130.].