Objective: The purpose of this study was to use MR imaging to evaluate the prevalence and extent of rotator cuff tears in paraplegic patients, who are at increased risk for impingement caused by overuse.
Materials and methods: Sixty-four MR examinations of the shoulder were evaluated for partial or full-thickness rotator cuff tears and for single or multiple rotator cuff tendon tears. Thirty-seven MR studies were from paraplegic subjects (26 symptomatic, 11 asymptomatic), and 27 MR studies were from able-bodied subjects (17 symptomatic, 10 asymptomatic).
Results: Among subjects who were symptomatic and paraplegic, 73% of shoulders imaged showed evidence of rotator cuff tear on MR images compared with 59% of shoulders in able-bodied symptomatic subjects. Of all subjects with paraplegia, 57% of shoulders imaged showed rotator cuff tears. Among all paraplegic subjects, prevalence and severity of tears correlated positively with age and duration of spinal cord injury. Tears that involved the posterior portion of the rotator cuff were revealed on MR images in 74% of the paraplegic subjects compared with 50% of the able-bodied subjects.
Conclusion: MR imaging revealed a high percentage and degree of severity of rotator cuff tears in individuals with paraplegia and thus proved useful in evaluating shoulders in these patients.