Biceps tendon sheath effusion as a diagnostic clue to rotator cuff pathology

Pankaj K Yadav, Bhavin Shah, Amol Shende, S Rajesh
Journal of the Indian Medical Association 2014, 112 (2): 103-5
The objective of this study was to evaluate the role of biceps tendon sheath effusion detected on ultrasound as a diagnostic clue to rotator cuff pathology. Despite being the most common cause of shoulder pain in adults early sonographic changes of rotator cuff tendinopathy are easy to miss. A total of 31 patients out of whom 27 had unilateral shoulder pain and 4 had bilateral complaints under- went ultrasonographic examination of shoulder joint using high frequency linear array transducer. Any fluid surrounding the long head of biceps tendon was noted followed by a careful search for any associated sonographic abnormality involving the rotator cuff. Eighteen out of the 35 had presence of fluid in their biceps tendon sheath. Twelve had presence of both biceps tendon sheath effusion and rotator cuff pathologies. Among 17 patients, who had no fluid in their biceps tendon sheath, only 2 had rotator cuff involvement whereas rest 15 had neither biceps tendon sheath fluid nor rotator cuff pathologies. A significant association was found between presence of fluid in long head of biceps tendon sheath and rotator cuff pathologies. Thus the most common finding observed in association with the presence of fluid around the long head of biceps tendon sheath in this study was tendinosis of rotator cuff. On ultrasonography simple presence of fluid around the long head of biceps tendon sheath demands careful examination of rotator cuff.

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