In Vivo Evaluation of the Potential of High-Frequency Ultrasound for Arthroscopic Examination of the Shoulder Joint

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Abstract

Objective

Accurate arthroscopic evaluation of cartilage lesions could significantly improve the outcome of repair surgery. In this study, we investigated for the first time the potential of intra-articular ultrasound as an arthroscopic tool for grading cartilage defects in the human shoulder joint in vivo and compared the outcome to results from arthroscopic evaluation and magnetic resonance imaging findings.

Design

A total of 26 sites from 9 patients undergoing routine shoulder arthroscopy were quantitatively evaluated with a clinical intravascular (40MHz) ultrasound imaging system, using the regular arthroscopy portals. Reflection coefficient (R), integrated reflection coefficient (IRC), apparent integrated backscattering (AIB), and ultrasound roughness index (URI) were calculated, and high-resolution ultrasound images were obtained per site. Each site was visually graded according to the International Cartilage Repair Society (ICRS) system. “Ultrasound scores” corresponding to the ICRS system were determined from the ultrasound images. Magnetic resonance imaging was conducted and cartilage integrity at each site was classified into 5 grades (0 = normal, 4 = severely abnormal) by a radiologist.

Results

R and IRC were lower at sites with damaged cartilage surface (P = 0.033 and P = 0.043, respectively) and correlated with arthroscopic ICRS grades (rs = −0.444, P = 0.023 and rs = −0.426, P = 0.03, respectively). Arthroscopic ICRS grades and ultrasound scores were significantly correlated (rs = 0.472, P = 0.015), but no significant correlation was found between magnetic resonance imaging data and other parameters.

Conclusion

The results suggest that ultrasound arthroscopy could facilitate quantitative clinical appraisal of articular cartilage integrity in the shoulder joint and provide information on cartilage lesion depth and severity for quantitative diagnostics in surgery.

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