Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica
Research Article

Diagnostic accuracy of ultrasound in subscapularis tendon abnormalities and the importance of operator experience


Department of Radiology, Eskişehir Osmangazi University, School of Medicine, Eskişehir, Turkey


Clinic of Radiology, Denizli State Hospital, Denizli, Turkey


Clinic of Physical treatment and Rehabilitation, Artvin State Hospital, Artvin, Turkey


Department of Orthopaedics, Süleyman Demirel University, School of Medicine, Isparta, Turkey


Department of Biostatistics, Ankara University, School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey


Clinic of Pediatric Hematology, Lösante Hospital, Ankara, Turkey

AOTT 2020; 54: 423-429
DOI: 10.5152/j.aott.2020.20146
Read: 290 Downloads: 140 Published: 29 June 2020

Objective: This study aimed to investigate the reasons behind the compliance, diagnostic success, and failure of ultrasound (US) examinations of two radiologists with reference to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the abnormalities of subscapularis (SSC) tendon, including tendinosis.

Methods: One less experienced radiologist (operator-1) and one senior radiologist, experienced in the musculoskeletal US (operator-2), performed the shoulder US on 78 patients (mean age: 53.18 ± 10.89 [22-73] years), who had undergone MRI for routine reasons except malignancy, within 1-4 weeks of MRI. Tendinopathy, partial (PT), or full-thickness (FT) tears were recorded in the subscapularis. The thickness of the anterior and lateral soft tissues in the shoulder girdle was measured by MRI. The inter-operator agreement on the US results, the US-MRI compliance for each operator, and the relationship between the US-MRI compliance and tissue thickness were investigated.

Results: The inter-operator agreement on the US findings was moderate. The US-MRI compliance was fair for operator-1, but substantial for operator-2. The circumferential soft tissue thickness and US-MRI compliance were not correlated (p>0.05). The interobserver agreement in US was moderate (K: 0.415). The US-MRI compliance was fair for operator-1 (K: 0.344) and substantial for operator-2 (K: 0.616). The accuracy rates for the differentiation of normal tendon, tendinosis, PT, and FT were 59%, 75%, 72%, and 100%, respectively, for operator-1 and 87%, 83%, 85%, and 100%, respectively, for operator-2. However, the respective sensitivity of operator-1 was 46%, 19%, 44%, and 100%; and operator-2 was 91%, 67%, 82%, and 100%. The diagnostic performance of operator-1 was lower, except for FT.

Conclusion: The thickness of the surrounding tissue does not affect the US results. The differentiation between tendinosis and PT tear is difficult (more prominent in less experienced user); however, because this would not change the treatment choice, shoulder US is recommended after basic training in subscapularis pathologies.

Level of evidence: Level II, Diagnostic

Cite this article as: Toprak U, Türkoğlu S, Aydoğan Ç, et al. Diagnostic accuracy of ultrasound in subscapularis tendon abnormalities and the importance of operator experience. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc 2020; 54(4): 423-9.

ISSN 1017-995X EISSN 2589-1294