Clinical Update: MR Imaging of the Shoulder

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Magnetic resonance imaging has become an important diagnostic adjunct in the evaluation of shoulder conditions, and the technology continues to evolve. Direct magnetic resonance arthrography can improve detection of labral and rotator cuff pathology, especially partial thickness tears of the rotator cuff. Special positioning, such as abducted-externally rotated views, improves visualization of the rotator cuff and posterior superior labrum in throwing athletes. Diagnosis-specific sequencing such as fat suppression, spin-echo and proton-density techniques, and higher power magnets (3.0 T) allow for an unprecedented level of soft tissue detail. Clinical expertize is required to differentiate between normal anatomic variants, incidental findings, and true pathology. Although magnetic resonance imaging findings may be diagnostic in some cases, clinical correlation with history and physical examination findings is critical.

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