MR imaging of rotator cuff injury: what the clinician needs to know

Radiographics. 2006 Jul-Aug;26(4):1045-65. doi: 10.1148/rg.264055087.


The rotator cuff muscles generate torque forces to move the humerus while acting in concord to produce balanced compressive forces to stabilize the glenohumeral joint. Thus, rotator cuff tears are often associated with loss of shoulder strength and stability, which are crucial for optimal shoulder function. The dimensions and extent of rotator cuff tears, the condition of the involved tendon, tear morphologic features, involvement of the subscapularis and infraspinatus tendons or of contiguous structures (eg, rotator interval, long head of the biceps brachii tendon, specific cuff tendons), and evidence of muscle atrophy may all have implications for rotator cuff treatment and prognosis. Magnetic resonance imaging can demonstrate the extent and configuration of rotator cuff abnormalities, suggest mechanical imbalance within the cuff, and document abnormalities of the cuff muscles and adjacent structures. A thorough understanding of the anatomy and function of the rotator cuff and of the consequences of rotator cuff disorders is essential for optimal treatment planning and prognostic accuracy. Identifying the disorder, understanding the potential clinical consequences, and reporting all relevant findings at rotator cuff imaging are also essential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Rotator Cuff / pathology*
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome / diagnosis*