Analysis of Low-Field MRI Scanners for Evaluation of Shoulder Pathology Based on Arthroscopy

Orthop J Sports Med. 2014 Jul 2;2(7):2325967114540407. doi: 10.1177/2325967114540407. eCollection 2014 Jul.


Background: Many studies have compared the diagnostic capabilities of low-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to high-field MRI scanners; however, few have evaluated the low-field MRI diagnoses compared with intraoperative findings.

Purpose: To determine the accuracy and sensitivity of low-field MRI scanners in diagnosing lesions of the rotator cuff and glenoid labrum.

Study design: Cohort study (diagnosis); Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: Over a 2-year period, MRI examinations without intra-articular contrast were performed on 79 patients for shoulder pathologies using an in-office 0.2-T extremity scanner. The MRI examinations were read by board-certified, musculoskeletal fellowship-trained radiologists. All patients underwent shoulder arthroscopy performed by a single sports fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon within a mean time of 56 days (range, 8-188 days) after the MRI examination. The mean patient age was 54 years (range, 18-81 years). Operative notes from the shoulder arthroscopies were then retrospectively reviewed by a single blinded observer, and the intraoperative findings were compared with the MRI reports.

Results: For partial-thickness rotator cuff tears, the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value were 85%, 89%, 79%, and 92%, respectively. For full-thickness rotator cuff tears, the respective values were 97%, 100%, 100%, and 98%. For anterior labral lesions, the values were 86%, 99%, 86%, and 99%, and for superior labral anterior-posterior (SLAP) lesions, the values were 20%, 100%, 100%, and 79%, respectively.

Conclusion: Low-field MRI is an accurate tool for evaluation of partial- and full-thickness rotator cuff tears; however, it is not effective in diagnosing SLAP lesions. More information is needed to properly assess its ability to diagnose anterior and posterior labral lesions.

Keywords: glenoid labrum; low-field MRI; rotator cuff.