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AN ULTRASONOGRAPHIC STUDY OF THE ASYMPTOMATIC CONTRALATERAL SHOULDER IN PATIENTS WITH A CONFIRMED SYMPTOMATIC ROTATOR CUFF TEAR

Authors: N.G.J. Maritz and Z. Osman

References: J Bone Joint Surg Br Orthopaedic Proceedings, 2005 87-B: 275

Abstract
Our study aimed to determine the presence of rotator cuff tears in asymptomatic shoulders of patients with symptomatic tears in the contralateral shoulder.

We asked 50 patients between the ages 40 and 83 years to complete a questionnaire. A single radiologist carried out ultrasonographic evaluation of both shoulders. Impingement signs were graded according to Neer’s classification and tears were graded according to Wiener and Seitz’s classification.

In 53% of asymptomatic shoulders there were tears that did not greatly differ from those on the symptomatic side. The only difference between asymptomatic and symptomatic tears was subacromial bursitis and biceps tendinopathy.

The high incidence of asymptomatic rotator cuff tears suggests that initial treatment of rotator cuff tears should be conservative and based on clinical judgment rather than on imaging modalities.

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