May 18th, 2011 , Orthopedics

Incidence of False Positive Rotator Cuff Pathology in MRIs of Patients with Adhesive Capsulitis

The purpose of this study was to compare the incidence of presumed rotator cuff pathology based on radiologist and surgeon interpretation of preoperative magnetic resonance images (MRIs) with actual rotator cuff pathology found intraoperatively in patients undergoing arthroscopic capsular release for adhesive capsulitis.The medical records of 38 consecutive patients who underwent arthroscopic glenohumeral capsular release for adhesive capsulitis between September 2001 and May 2007 were retrospectively reviewed. Radiologist and surgeon predicted status of the rotator cuff by prospective MRI interpretation was compared to the actual status of the rotator cuff intraoperatively. Radiologists’ preoperative MRI interpretations predicted a 57.9% incidence of rotator cuff pathology, while operative findings revealed a true incidence of only 13.2% (P<.0001). Radiologists accurately predicted the absence or presence of a rotator cuff tear in 19 of 38 cases (50%), compared to the surgeon, who correctly interpreted 29 of 38 MRIs (76.3%).Interpretations of shoulder MRIs in patients with adhesive capsulitis may provide misleading information regarding rotator cuff pathology. The actual findings of shoulder MRI scans may lead to the appearance of false rotator cuff pathology in this population, and a high percentage of false positive MRI reports of rotator cuff tears was observed in these patients. If MRI is chosen as a diagnostic adjunct in this patient population, careful consideration should be given to its interpretation to avoid unnecessary or possibly aggravating surgical intervention.