Ultrasonographic analysis of shoulder rotator cuff tears

Acta Med Okayama. 1999 Apr;53(2):81-9. doi: 10.18926/AMO/31628.


Seventy-nine shoulders suspected of rotator cuff tears were examined by ultrasonography (US) and forty-three received surgery. Long and short axis scans were performed and findings of each were separately classified according to a five-grade system, and the results were correlated with the actual extent of tear observed during surgery. Internal echogenicity and subacromial impingement were analyzed before and after surgery. A accuracy of US in detecting rotator cuff tears was analyzed. In addition, the correlation between cuff shape observed by US before surgery and actual shape observed during surgery was assessed. It was noted that cuff thinning and abnormalities in shape did not recover to normal after surgery. However, in the cases of discontinuities observed by US before surgery, US findings indicated that the torn cuff was anchored to the greater tuberosity and functional during active motion. Although post-operative US findings were not normal, clinical results were good in most cases. Sensitivity of US for detecting rotator cuff tear was 100% and specificity 94%. US is non-invasive, cost effective and allows the physician to examine the joint while it is in motion. Therefore, at this time, we use US as a screening method for detecting rotator cuff tears. Furthermore, US allows us to check for re-tears while the joint is in motion, which is essential for accurate diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rotator Cuff / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Ultrasonography