Ultrasonography of the rotator cuff: Analysis of results in a community setting

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 1993 Jan;2(1):22-6. doi: 10.1016/S1058-2746(09)80133-X. Epub 2009 Feb 19.


Forty-six patients underwent ultrasonogrophy evaluation of their shoulder for suspected rotator cuff tears from 1989 to 1992. All ultrasound studies were evaluated by a radiologist (HJH) who was not subspecialty-trained in shoulder ultrasonography. All patients had surgical confirmation of the status of their tendons. A statistical analysis of the accuracy of ultrasound in detecting rotator cuff tearing was performed. The sensitivity was 81%, and the specificity was 100%; there was a positive predictive value of 100% and a negative predictive value of 71%. Using strict sonographic criteria for diagnosing a rotator cuff tear, we conclude that ultrasound can detect intermediate or large rotator cuff tears with great accuracy (19 of 20 shoulders). Accuracy decreases dramatically in the presence of a small tear (six of 11 shoulders). At our hospital the cost of ultrasound examination of the shoulder is 0.19 the cost of magnetic resonance imaging of the shoulder and is 0.62 the cost of a shoulder arthrogrom. Ultrasound of the shoulder should be considered for imaging the rotator cuff because of its accuracy, low cost, and high patient satisfaction. It can be reliably performed by radiologists with state-of-the-art equipment who are interested in and have experience with the procedure.