The use of in-office, orthopaedist-performed ultrasound of the shoulder to evaluate and manage rotator cuff disorders

Authors: Dean W. Ziegler, MD

References: J Shoulder Elbow Surg 2004 May-Jun;13(3):291-7

This study presents the use of in-office ultrasound, performed by an attending orthopaedic surgeon, as a means of evaluating the integrity of the rotator cuff. The results of 282 shoulder sonograms in patients ultimately treated surgically were included. Findings at surgery were recorded and compared with those documented during the ultrasound examination. Ultrasound findings included 118 full-thickness and 143 partial-thickness rotator cuff tears and 6 intact cuffs confirmed at surgery. One patient with a partial supraspinatus tear on ultrasound was intact at surgery, nine with complete supraspinatus tears had partial-thickness tears at surgery, one with an intact supraspinatus had a full-thickness tear at surgery, and four with partial-thickness supraspinatus tears had full-thickness tears at surgery. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value were 94.1%, 96.1%, 96.6%, and 93.2%, respectively, for partial-thickness tears; 95.9%, 94.3%, 92.9%, and 96.8%, respectively, for full-thickness tears; and 99.6%, 85.7%, 99.6%, and 85.7%, respectively, when the rotator cuff was evaluated for damage (either partial- or full-thickness tears). This series documents the ability of an orthopaedic surgeon to image the rotator cuff effectively using portable ultrasound in the clinic setting, allowing for a more efficient implementation of the management plan.


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