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Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Rotator Cuff Tears in Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Magdalena Freygant, Ewa Dziurzyńska-Białek, Wiesław Guz, Antoni Samojedny, Andrzej Gołofit, Agnieszka Kostkiewicz, Krzysztof Terpin

Clinical Department of Radiology, Provincial Hospital No. 2, Rzeszów, Poland

Pol J Radiol 2014; 79:391-397

DOI: 10.12659/PJR.890541

Available online:

Published: 2014-11-03

Background: Shoulder joint is a common site of musculoskeletal pain caused, among other things, by rotator cuff tears due to narrowing of subacromial space, acute trauma or chronic shoulder overload. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an excellent modality for imaging of soft tissues of the shoulder joint considering a possibility of multiplanar image acquisition and non-invasive nature of the study. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of partial and complete rotator cuff tears in magnetic resonance images of patients with shoulder impingement syndrome and to review the literature on the causes and classification of rotator cuff tears.
Material and Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the results of 137 shoulder MRI examinations performed in 57 women and 72 men in Magnetic Resonance facility of the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging at the St. Jadwiga the Queen Regional Hospital No. 2 in Rzeszow between June 2010 and February 2013.
Examinations were performed using Philips Achieva 1.5T device, including spin echo and gradient echo sequences with T1-, T2- and PD-weighted as well as fat saturation sequences in transverse, frontal and sagittal oblique planes.
Patients were referred from hospital wards as well as from outpatient clinics of the subcarpathian province.
Results: The most frequently reported injuries included partial supraspinatus tendon tear and complete tearing most commonly involved the supraspinatus muscle tendon.
The smallest group comprised patients with complete tear of subscapularis muscle tendon.
Among 137 patients in the study population, 129 patients suffered from shoulder pain, including 57 patients who reported a history of trauma. There was 44% women and 56% men in a group of patients with shoulder pain. Posttraumatic shoulder pain was predominantly reported by men, while women comprised a larger group of patients with shoulder pain not preceded by injury.
Conclusions: Rotator cuff injury is a very common pathology in patients with shoulder impingement syndrome. Isolated supraspinatus tendon injury or complete tearing is most frequent, rather than in conjunction with injuries to other rotator cuff tendons. We did not observe isolated complete tears of infraspinatus and subscapular muscle tendons.

Keywords: Magnetic Resonance Imaging, rotator cuff, shoulder pain