The diagnosis of chronic lesions of the rotator cuff is challenging. We have developed a new index to improve the sonographic diagnosis of chronic tears of the cuff.
In a pilot study, we examined 50 asymptomatic healthy volunteers by ultrasound to establish the diameter of the rotator cuff in relation to the tendon of the long head of biceps. Subsequently, the index was calculated in 64 patients who had had shoulder pain for more than three months caused by clinically diagnosed lesions of the rotator cuff. The compensatory hypertrophy of the biceps tendon was quantified sonographically in relation to the diameter of the cuff.
Comparison with the contralateral shoulder revealed a significantly higher biceps rotator-cuff ratio (p < 0.05) for patients with torn rotator cuffs. A ratio greater than 0.8 was considered pathological (index positive); the mean ratio in the control group was 0.43. The sensitivity of a positive index was 97.8%, the specificity 63.2%, the positive predictive value 86.3%, and the negative predictive value 92.4% in comparison with surgical findings.
Use of the index improves sensitivity in the diagnosis of chronic tears of the cuff by ultrasound.
- Received December 1, 1997.
- Accepted February 6, 1998.
- © 1999 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery