Diagnostic accuracy of shoulder ultrasound performed by a single operator

Australas Radiol. 2007 Jun;51(3):226-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1673.2007.01685.x.


Both diagnostic ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used for investigation of the presence and severity of rotator cuff lesions. There is no consensus as to which is the more accurate and cost-effective study. We sought to examine the sensitivity of ultrasound, when used by one experienced radiologist with modern equipment. We compared the ultrasound and surgical results obtained from 68 patients. Ultrasound showed a sensitivity of 89% and specificity of 100% (Positive Predictive Value 100%) for full-thickness tears, and a sensitivity of 79% and specificity of 94% (Positive Predictive Value 87%) for partial-thickness tears. We found that shoulder ultrasound, in the hands of an experienced radiologist with the use of modern high-resolution equipment, is highly sensitive in differentiating complete tears and partial-thickness tears. Our results are similar to the best published results for MRI and given that ultrasound is significantly cheaper and more available, ultrasound by an experienced radiologist should be considered as a primary diagnostic tool for imaging the rotator cuff.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnosis*
  • Joint Instability / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rotator Cuff / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shoulder Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery
  • Ultrasonography