Adhesive capsulitis: role of MR imaging in differential diagnosis
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The purpose of this study was to describe and characterize the MR imaging findings in a group of patients who underwent surgery for adhesive capsulitis. Twenty-four MR imaging studies in 24 consecutive patients with clinical evidence of adhesive capsulitis were performed prior to arthroscopic capsulotomy. There were 17 women and 7 men with a mean age of 53.5 years. Images were scrutinised for changes in the synovium particularly in the rotator interval, around the biceps anchor and axillary pouch. Intravenous gadolinium was given routinely. We also examined a control group of 22 patients who underwent the same MR imaging protocol after referral for rotator cuff pathology. Soft tissue density showing variable enhancement after gadolinium administration was visible in the rotator interval in 22 of 24 studies on MR imaging. Seventeen patients showed soft tissue density partially encasing the biceps anchor. Ten patients showed thickening and gadolinium enhancement of the axillary pouch. Three patients from the study cohort had partial tears of the supraspinatus tendon. All the patients subsequently had surgery which confirmed fibrovascular scar tissue in the rotator interval, around the biceps anchor and a variable degree of synovial inflammation of the glenohumeral capsule. Two patients from a control group with suspected rotator cuff pathology showed abnormal intensity in the rotator interval on MR imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging can identify changes in the shoulder joint that correspond to abnormalities seen at surgery. This may be useful for discriminating adhesive capsulitis from other causes of shoulder pain.
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