Various imaging modalities are used in the office and out of the office. In order to confirm the diagnosis of rotator cuff tear. X-Rays are typically done as a baseline in order to assess the health of the joint and to ensure how much arthritis, if any, is involved. It also allows to study the basic anatomy of the shoulder and does give the musculoskeletal physician some hints about how long some of this stuff has been going on and the overall health of the shoulder joint. In order to confirm the diagnosis of a rotator cuff tear, things like MRI or ultrasound are used to image the soft tissue structures of the shoulder. Whereas an x-ray will not show the rotator cuff tendons an MRI or an ultrasound can be used to look for this. This will not only allow for the diagnosis of a tear, but will also allow for the diagnosis of how long this tear has been going on for and how healthy is the tissue. This is important because it aids in the decision making for surgery. A lot of times, general conclusions can be drawn based on the health of the muscle on an MRI or ultrasound to determine whether a tear can or cannot be even fixed.
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