Acute traumatic tears of the rotator cuff: value of sonography

Radiology. 1995 Oct;197(1):269-73. doi: 10.1148/radiology.197.1.7568835.


Purpose: To determine the value of sonography in the evaluation of acute traumatic tears of the rotator cuff.

Materials and methods: Preoperative sonography was performed within 3 weeks of trauma in 184 patients, 98 of whom underwent surgery. The rotator cuff tears were preoperatively classified as partial-thickness tears or as small, large, or massive full-thickness tears. Sonographic findings were correlated with surgical findings (n = 70) and arthroscopic inspection (n = 28).

Results: Adequate examination was possible in 163 (88%) of 184 patients. Sonography demonstrated 42 (91%) of 46 full-thickness tears and seven (78%) of nine partial-thickness tears. Sonography showed more extensive tears than were found at surgery in four (4%) of 98 patients and less extensive tears in seven (7%) of 98 patients. Sonographic patterns were a defect (31 [63%] of 49 tears), focal thinning (10 [21%] of 49 tears), and nonvisualization (eight [16%] of 49 tears).

Conclusion: Sonography is useful in the evaluation of acute shoulder trauma when a rotator cuff tear is suspected and findings at plain radiography are negative.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rotator Cuff / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Ultrasonography