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.