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Are shoulder surgeons any good at diagnosing rotator cuff tears using ultrasound?: A comparative analysis of surgeon vs radiologist

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Author(s): Jeyam Muthu | Funk Lennard | Harris Jonathan

Journal: International Journal of Shoulder Surgery
ISSN 0973-6042

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Shoulder | ultrasound

ABSTRACT
High-resolution ultrasound has gained increasing popularity as an aid in the diagnosis of rotator cuff pathology. With the advent of portable machines, ultrasound has become accessible to clinicians. Aim: This study was conducted to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of ultrasound in diagnosing rotator cuff tears by a shoulder surgeon and comparing their ability to that of a musculoskeletal radiologist. Materials and Methods: Seventy patients undergoing shoulder arthroscopy for rotator cuff pathology underwent preoperative ultrasonography (US). All patients were of similar demographics and pathology. The surgeon used a Sonosite Micromax portable ultrasound machine with a 10-MHz high frequency linear array transducer and the radiologist used a 9-12 MHz linear array probe on a Siemens Antares machine. Arthroscopic diagnosis was the reference standard to which ultrasound findings were compared. Results: The sensitivity in detecting full thickness tears was similar for both the surgeon (92%) and the radiologist (94%). The radiologist had 100% sensitivity in diagnosing partial thickness tears, compared to 85.7% for the surgeon. The specificity for the surgeon was 94% and 85% for the radiologist. Discussion: Our study shows that the surgeons are capable of diagnosing rotator cuff tears with the use of high-resolution portable ultrasound in the outpatient setting. Conclusion: Office ultrasound, by a trained clinician, is a powerful diagnostic tool in diagnosing rotator cuff tears and can be used effectively in running one-stop shoulder clinics.
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