Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Shoulder
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test
done with a large machine that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave
energy to make pictures of the shoulder. Muscles,
cartilage, and other joint structures are best seen
with an MRI. In many cases MRI gives information about structures in the body
that cannot be seen as well with an
For an MRI test, you are placed
inside the magnet so that your shoulder is inside the strong magnetic field.
MRI can find changes in the structure of organs or other tissues. It also can
find tissue damage or disease, such as infection or a tumor. Pictures from an
MRI scan are digital images that can be saved and stored on a computer for
further study. The images also can be reviewed remotely, such as in a clinic or
an operating room. Photographs or films of selected pictures can also be made.
See MRI images of the rotator cuff .
In some cases, a
contrast material may be used during the MRI scan to
show certain structures more clearly in the pictures. The contrast material may
be used to check blood flow, find some types of tumors, and show areas of
inflammation or infection. The contrast material may be put in a vein (IV) in your arm or directly into your shoulder
See pictures of a
standard MRI machine and an
open MRI machine .
Why It Is Done
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the
shoulder is done to:
- Check unexplained shoulder
- Find problems in the shoulder, such as
arthritis, bone tumors, worn-out cartilage, torn
ligaments, torn tendons, or infection. An MRI can detect tears in the cartilage
(labrum) in the shoulder. Labral tears often are caused
by injury and can lead to shoulder pain.
rotator cuff disorders, including tears and
MRI may also help diagnosis a bone fracture when X-rays
and other tests are not clear. MRI is done more commonly than other tests to
check for certain bone and joint problems.