Patients are often referred for a shoulder MRI in relation to sports injuries as the MRI can provide clear pictures of parts of the shoulder (such as soft tissues) that are difficult to see clearly through other imaging.
You may also be referred for a shoulder MRI if you have:-
- A mass that can be felt during a physical exam
- An abnormal finding on an x-ray or bone scan
- Shoulder pain and fever
- Decreased motion in the shoulder joint
- Dislocation of the shoulder
- Fluid buildup in the shoulder joint
- Pain or history of cancer
- Pain that doesn’t get better with treatment
- Redness or swelling in the shoulder joint
- Weakness in the shoulder
An MRI of the shoulder looks at the following:
A shoulder MRI will include the ball and joint socket of the shoulder (humerus and glenoid) and parts of the scapula and upper arm. The shoulder MRI will detect tumours, bone fractures, infection and can be used to evaluate post-surgical changes. An MRI scan can also determine the extent of degenerative changes (arthritis) and be used for pre-operative planning for surgery.
Cartilage and Labrum
Shoulder MRI can be used to look at the cartilage of the shoulder joint and the labrum. The labrum is a stabilising piece of cartilage which can be torn or irritated and cause pain.
Tendons and Ligaments
The shoulder is stabilised and moves via a complex set of tendons and ligaments. These can be frequently torn, partially torn or exhibit signs of age (degeneration) that leads to pain or difficulty in moving the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff includes the group of tendons around the shoulder joint.
The Shoulder MRI can include the soft tissues and can detect tears, strain, atrophy, tumours and infections. The Shoulder MRI can also detect joint fluid, lymph nodes in the axilla (armpit) tumors or cysts in the suprascapular notch, the pathway of nerves to the back of the shoulder.
Your Shoulder MRI
A shoulder MRI usually takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. If you are attending Newcastle Clinic for a shoulder MRI, please wear loose comfortable clothing and remove all jewellery before going into the MRI consultation room.