Objective: Shoulder pain, a common cause of productivity loss and health-related expense, is commonly due to rotator cuff tears. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging with intra-articular gadolinium, MR arthrography, is accepted internationally as an excellent modality for evaluating the rotator cuff. Ultrasound is cheaper and only slightly less sensitive in detecting rotator cuff tears, but MR is superior in detecting ancillary lesions. Magnetic resonance arthrography was introduced at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in July 2003. We aim to evaluate our experience with MR arthrography and assess our accuracy.
Methods: A retrospective study was done. All MR arthrography cases performed at UHWI between July 2003 and July 2006 were reviewed. Dockets were reviewed to determine surgical correlation.
Results: One hundred and forty MR arthrograms were performed. Fifty-five per cent of patients were female. Ages ranged from the second to the ninth decade, having a distribution approaching but not attaining a normal distribution, (p = 0.03), with clustering in the middle years. Magnetic resonance arthrography demonstrated a torn rotator cuff in 40 patients, none of whom were under the age of 40 years (p < .001). Fifteen patients had surgery which confirmed torn rotator cuffs in all 15.
Conclusions: Magnetic resonance arthrography was found to be accurate in detecting rotator cuff tears. It should be considered in the evaluation of patients with suspected rotator cuff tear. In patients under the age of 40 years, sonography could be used as an alternative.