What is the role of MRI in the workup of rotator cuff injuries?

Updated: Oct 25, 2018
  • Author: Gerard A Malanga, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has replaced arthrography as the criterion standard for diagnosing injuries to the rotator cuff, as arthrography was found to be specific, but not sensitive, for the diagnosis of partial rotator cuff tears in adolescents. [25]

MRI is a noninvasive imaging modality that is extremely sensitive and specific. It can be used to detect the size, location, and characteristics of rotator cuff pathology.

In a rotator cuff tear, the tendon demonstrates a bright signal on T1-weighted images that increases significantly on T2-weighted images.

The increased signal on T2-weighted images is fluid that is filling the defect and helps to differentiate a frank tear from tendinosis.

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