Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using a microscopy coil for the diagnosis of rotator cuff tears by comparing the method to conventional MRI and MRI arthrography.
Materials and methods: A total of 68 shoulders were prospectively studied using a 1.5-T MRI unit. Conventional MRI scans were obtained with a surface coil and high-resolution MRI scans with a microscopy coil. MRI arthrography was performed in 28 shoulders using a surface coil. MRI evaluation of tears of rotator cuff tendons was compared with arthroscopic findings and surgical results.
Results: The surgery revealed 40 full-thickness tears, 13 partial-thickness tears, and 15 intact cuffs. In all, 35 (88%) full-thickness tears were correctly diagnosed on conventional MRI and 40 (100%) on high-resolution MRI. MR arthrography delineated 11 of 12 (92%) full-thickness tears. Altogether, 5 (38%) of the partial-thickness tears were detected on conventional MRI, and 12 (92%) were clearly demonstrated on high-resolution MRI. MRI arthrography depicted three (60%) of five partial-thickness tears. High-resolution MRI showed higher sensitivity than conventional MRI (P < 0.05) and had values equivalent to those of MRI arthrography for diagnosing partial-thickness tears.
Conclusion: High-resolution MRI with a microscopy coil is a feasible, noninvasive technique for diagnosing rotator cuff tears.