MRI of the shoulder (an approach)

MRI of the shoulder is one of the more frequent examinations faced in daily radiological practice. This approach is an example of how to create a radiological report of an MRI shoulder with coverage of the most common anatomical sites of possible pathology, within the shoulder.

Systematic review

A systematic review in the MRI of the shoulder is essential since shoulder anatomy itself is rather complex, pathologies and injury patterns and are manifold and only rarely lead to an abnormality of a single structure but rather show diverse findings which might need to be addressed in further patient management.


The bony structures of the shoulder, the pictured proximal humerus, the pictured scapula with the glenoid, coracoid process as well as the acromion and the distal clavicle are assessed:

Acromioclavicular joint and coracoacromial arch 

Assessment of the acromioclavicular joint,  including acromial shape, downslope, variant anatomy.

Subacromial and subdeltoid bursa
  • subacromial bursitis, fluid
Rotator cuff

Assessment of the following structures:

Precise assessment and description and grading of the rotator cuff pathology (e.g. tendinosis, partial-thickness, full-thickness rotator cuff tear or calcium deposits) including the shape, extension and tear dimensions if applicable.

Muscles are assessed in respect to atrophy, fatty degeneration and edema as a result of a rotator cuff tear or in nerve compression syndromes.

Rotator interval and long head biceps tendon

Assessment of the following structures:

The rotator interval is assessed with respect to biceps pulley injury and in cases of suspected adhesive capsulitis.

Glenohumeral articulation

Assessment of the following structures:

Soft Tissues

Assessment of deltoid and pectoralis muscles and the subcutaneous fat.

Common pathology

Article information

rID: 78677
Section: Approach
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • MRI of the shoulder reporting template

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