Ultrasonographic findings of painful shoulders and correlation between physical examination and ultrasonographic rotator cuff tear

Mod Rheumatol. 2007;17(3):213-9. doi: 10.1007/s10165-007-0577-8. Epub 2007 Jun 20.


The objectives of this study were to identify ultrasonographic (US) abnormalities and to compare physical examination with US findings, especially of rotator cuff abnormalities in patients with shoulder pain. A total of 120 patients with shoulder pain were prospectively studied. The physical examination of shoulders was performed as follows: (1) the area of tenderness; (2) the range of passive and active motion for abduction, forward flexion, external rotation, and internal rotation; (3) Neer and Hawkins's tests for shoulder impingement; and (4) maneuvers for determining the location of the tendon lesions. Transverse and longitudinal planes from the long head of the biceps, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and subscapularis tendons, the subacromial-subdeltoid bursa, and the glenohumeral and acromioclavicular joints were included for US examination. The range of motion most affected by shoulder pain was abduction, followed by external rotation and forward flexion. The most frequent US finding was effusion in the long head of the biceps tendon. Among the rotator cuff tendons, supraspinatus was the most frequently involved. Physical examination had low sensitivity and specificity for the detection of tendon tear. US examination leads to an anatomical diagnosis of shoulder pain in many patients. Whether the US examination of the painful shoulder improves its treatment should be investigated.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Rotator Cuff / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rotator Cuff / pathology
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Shoulder / diagnostic imaging*
  • Shoulder / pathology
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Shoulder Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Shoulder Pain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Ultrasonography