Purpose: To assess the magnetic resonance (MR) imaging appearance of the successfully repaired rotator cuff in an asymptomatic population.
Materials and methods: Fifteen subjects who had undergone clinically successful rotator cuff repair were included in the study. All underwent functional testing of the affected shoulder and had good to excellent scores on the Constant scale. Standard MR imaging sequences were performed at 1.5 T, including oblique coronal fast spin-echo T2-weighted MR imaging with fat saturation.
Results: Three (10%) of 30 supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons had normal signal intensity, and 16 (53%) had mildly increased signal intensity on fast spin-echo T2-weighted fat-saturated images, compatible with tendonitis or tendinosis. Three partial and four complete tears of the supraspinatus tendon and two partial and two complete tears of the infraspinatus tendon were seen. Other findings included subacromial-subdeltoid effusion (10 subjects), joint effusions (five subjects), and bone marrow edema (six subjects).
Conclusion: Postoperative signal intensity changes consistent with tendonitis or tendinosis were common, and clinically "silent" partial and complete rotator cuff tears were seen. Such postoperative MR imaging findings should be interpreted with caution, and meticulous correlation with symptoms and clinical results is recommended.