Shoulder ultrasonography performed by orthopedic surgeons increases efficiency in diagnosis of rotator cuff tears

J Orthop Surg Res. 2017 Apr 20;12(1):63. doi: 10.1186/s13018-017-0565-4.


Background: Rotator cuff tears are very common and their incidence increases with age. Shoulder ultrasonography has recently gained popularity in detecting rotator cuff tears because of its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, time-saving, and real-time nature of the procedure. Well-trained orthopedic surgeons may utilize shoulder ultrasonography to diagnose rotator cuff tears. The wait time of patients planned to have shoulder MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to rule in rotator cuff tears may decrease after orthopedic surgeon start doing shoulder ultrasonography as a screening tool for that. Patients with rotator cuff tears may be detected earlier by ultrasonography and have expedited surgical repair. The efficacy in determination of rotator cuff tears will also increase.

Methods: Patients were retrospectively reviewed from January 2007 to December 2012. They were divided into 2 groups: Ultrasound (-) group and the Ultrasound (+) group. Age, gender, wait time from outpatient department (OPD) visit to MRI exam, MRI exam to operation (OP), and OPD visit to OP, patient number for MRI exam, and number of patients who finally had rotator cuff repair within two groups were compared.

Results: The wait time of OPD visit to OP and MRI to OP in patients who received shoulder ultrasonography was significantly less than that in patients did not receive shoulder ultrasonography screening. Only 23.8% of the patients with a suspected rotator cuff injury undergone arthroscopic rotator cuff repair before ultrasonography was applied as a screening tool. The percentage increased to 53.6% after orthopedic surgeon started using ultrasonography as a screening tool for rotator cuff tears.

Conclusions: Office-based shoulder ultrasound examination can reduce the wait time for a shoulder MRI. The efficacy of determination of rotator cuff tears will also increase after the introduction of shoulder ultrasonography.

Keywords: Diagnosis; Efficiency; Rotator cuff; Shoulder; Ultrasonography.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthopedics / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography / statistics & numerical data*