Magnetic resonance imaging is an excellent modality for imaging pathological processes of the shoulder joint. It allows high-resolution imaging of all anatomic structures, including the glenoid, the humeral head, the articular cartilage, the acromion, the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff, the labrum, the biceps tendon, and the glenohumeral ligaments, in multiple orthogonal planes. Numerous technical options and several pulse sequences can be utilized for the performance of magnetic resonance imaging of the shoulder. The aim of this review is to update orthopaedic surgeons on the technical aspects of performing magnetic resonance imaging of the shoulder. In addition, this report will define the normal anatomy of the shoulder as demonstrated by magnetic resonance imaging and review the spectrum of disease detectable with this technique.

After reviewing this article, the reader should (1) have a basic understanding of the physics, pulse sequences, and terminology of magnetic resonance imaging; (2) be able to systematically evaluate the findings of a complete magnetic resonance imaging examination of the shoulder and know the features of normal shoulder anatomy; (3) be able to identify various tissue types on T1-weighted, fat-suppressed T2-weighted, and proton-density images; and (4) be able to diagnose certain pathological processes of the shoulder on the basis of magnetic resonance imaging findings.

Essentials of Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Process of Image Production

First, the subject is positioned in the scanner. For magnetic resonance imaging of the shoulder, the patient is supine and the arm is held at the side, as opposed to across the chest, in order to minimize transmission of respiratory motion to the shoulder. The arm is placed in slight external rotation to optimally orient the supraspinatus tendon in order to prevent confusing overlap with the infraspinatus tendon on coronal oblique images1. The external rotation also allows maximum visualization of the supraspinatus insertion2. The magnetic field of …

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