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Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Shoulder Arthroplasty

Review Article

  • Current Topics, Advances and Innovations in Musculoskeletal Imaging
  • Published:
HSS Journal ®



Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging evaluation of the painful failed shoulder arthroplasty is a useful imaging modality due to advancements in metal artifact reduction techniques, which allow assessment of the integrity of the supporting soft-tissue envelope and the implant.


The focus of this pictorial review is to illustrate the benefits of MR imaging, whether used alone or as an adjunct to other imaging modalities, in aiding the clinician in the complex decision making process.


A PubMed (MEDLINE) search focusing on the complications and imaging assessment of shoulder arthroplasty was performed. Articles were selected for review based on their pertinence to the aforementioned topics.


We discuss the ability of MR imaging to identify why a patient’s arthroplasty may have failed. Specific causes including component loosening and implant failure, rotator cuff and deltoid integrity, infection, subtle fractures, and nerve pathology are reviewed, with illustrative sample images.


MRI is a valuable tool in the assessment for pathology in the shoulder following arthroplasty.

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Conflict of Interest:

O. Kenechi Nwawka, MD, Gabrielle P. Konin, MD, and Darryl B. Sneag, MD, have declared that they have no conflict of interest. Hollis G. Potter, MD, receives grants from NIH and institutional research support from GEHC, outside the work. Lawrence V. Gulotta, MD, reports personal fees from Biomet, Inc, outside the work.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the any of the authors.

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Correspondence to O. Kenechi Nwawka MD.

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Nwawka, O.K., Konin, G.P., Sneag, D.B. et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Shoulder Arthroplasty. HSS Jrnl 10, 213–224 (2014).

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