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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2017

Supraspinatus muscle elasticity measured with real time shear wave ultrasound elastography correlates with MRI spectroscopic measured amount of fatty degeneration

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2017
Fabian Gilbert, Detlef Klein, Andreas Max Weng, Herbert Köstler, Benedikt Schmitz, Jonas Schmalzl, Dirk Böhm



Fatty Degeneration (FD) of the rotator cuff muscles influences functional and anatomical outcome after rotator cuff repair. The MRI based estimation of fatty degeneration is the gold standard. There is some evidence that Ultrasound elastography (EUS) can detect local differences of tissue stiffness in muscles and tendons. Shear-wave elastography (SWE) was evaluated to determine the extent to which shear wave velocity was associated with measures of fatty degeneration. MRI-spectroscopic fat measurement was used as a reference to quantify the amount of fat in the muscle belly.


Forty-two patients underwent SWE of the supraspinatus muscles at its thickest diameter. After ultrasound evaluation an MRI-spectroscopic fat measurement of the supraspinatus muscle was performed using the SPLASH-technique. A gel filled capsule was used to locate the measured area in the MRI. The values of shear wave velocity (SWV) measured with SWE and spectroscopic fat measurement were correlated statistically using Pearson’s correlation test.


Correlation of the fat amount measured with MRI-spectroscopy and the SWV measured with SWE was ρ =0.82. Spectroscopic measured fat ratio of the supraspinatus muscle ranged from 0% to 77.41% and SWV from 1.59 m/s to 5.32 m/s. In 4 patients no sufficient SWE could be performed, these individuals showed a larger diameter of the overlying soft tissue. SWV measured with SWE showed a good correlation with MRI spectroscopic fat amount of the supraspinatus muscle.


These preliminary data suggest that SWE may be a sufficient tool in detecting and estimating the amount of fatty degeneration in the supraspinatus muscle in real time. Large overlying soft tissue may be a limitation in performing sufficient EUS.
Ethical Committee Approval: Nr: 156/14 Date 12th August 2014.
Level of Evidence: III.
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