Rotator Cuff Therapy Exercises

Do You Need a Rotator Cuff MRI Scan?

What is a rotator cuff mri scan?

I suppose it is best to start with a few questions such as

  • What is an mri scan?
  • What does mri stand for
  • How does an mri scanner work?
  • What does the shoulder rotator cuff look like in an mri scan?
  • How is a rotator cuff tear mri performed?
  • Is it dangerous?

In this section I want to explain what a rotator cuff mri is and what to expect.

In doing so, I hope to answer some of the common questions shown above. If I can dispel a few myths along the way then that would be a bonus.

A rotator cuff mri is basically a means that allows a doctor to look inside the shoulder rotator cuff area.

This internal image is used in diagnosing exactly what is wrong with the joint. It is a very specialist job to determine exactly what the image shows.

What does mri stand for?

So, what is an mri scan? mri stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It is a fairly new technique developed during the 1980’s. It uses magnetic and radio waves so unlike Xray there is no exposure to radiation.

How does an mri scanner work?

An mri scanner is basically a large cylinder shaped magnet. Your role, as the patient, is simply to lie, as still as possible, inside of it.

Rotator Cuff MRIYour body is made up mainly of water and therefore contains a lot of hydrogen atoms.

It is these hydrogen atoms that the mri scanner generally work on to produce an image.

So what exactly happens?

Radio waves up to 30000 times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field are sent through the body.

This affects body’s atoms and forces the nuclei into a different position.

As the nuclei move back into position the nuclei send out there own radio waves.

It is these waves that the scanner picks up and analyses. A computer then turns them into an image which gives an internal view of the body.

What does a rotator cuff tear mri show?

An mri scanner makes it possible to obtain images of almost all the tissue in the body. The tissue that has the least number of hydrogen atoms, such as bone, shows up as a dark colour. Tissue with a lot of hydrogen atoms, such as fatty tissue, show up as a much brighter area.

It is possible by altering frequencies of the waves to obtain a very detailed picture of the tissue types that are present. A very accurate view of how exactly how the internal tissues are arranged can be produced. Rotator cuff mri scans can allow internal pictures to be taken from almost any angle.

Given that no surgical procedure is now required to “look at” the inside of the shoulder joint. Diagnosis of many of the common rotator cuff injuries can now be made safely and accurately. It seems that rotator cuff tears and mri scans were made for each other.

Rotator Cuff MRI tearThe image to the right clearly shows a rotator cuff tear.

Is a rotator cuff mri dangerous?

There are no side effects or known dangers associated with any mri scans. It is not painful and you can not feel the effects of the scan. The only concern is if you are in any way claustrophobic you may feel uncomfortable in a confined space.

It is important however to comply with all instructions and read the declarations carefully. Since you will be laying inside a giant magnet all jewellery must be removed.

Be especially careful if you have had metal fragments in your eyes at any time. Staff should be informed of pacemaker’s, hearing aids etc.

An mri scanner can be quite loud with a banging noise so ear defenders are often provided and should be worn.

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