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Sonoelastography findings of supraspinatus tendon in rotator cuff tendinopathy without tear: comparison with magnetic resonance images and conventional ultrasonography.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Sonoelastography (SE) is a new technique that can assess differences in tissue stiffness. This study investigated the performance of SE for the differentiation of supraspinatus (SSP) tendon alterations of tendinopathy compared to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and conventional ultrasonography (US).

METHODS: One hundred and eighteen consecutively registered patients with symptoms and MRI findings of SSP tendinopathy were assessed with US and SE. Coronal images of the SSP tendon were obtained using US and SE. Increased signal intensity on T2-weighted images in the coronal planes were graded according to the extent of the signal changes from ventral to dorsal. SE images were evaluated by reviewers using an experimentally proven color grading system.

RESULTS: Using SE, 7.6 % of the SSP tendons were categorized as grade 0, 30.5 % as grade 1, 19.5 % as grade 2, and 42.4 % as grade 3. Evaluation of the interobserver reliability of the SE findings showed "almost perfect agreement", with a weighted kappa coefficient of 0.83. By comparing the MRI findings with the SE findings, grades of MRI and SE had a positive correlation (r = 0.829, p = <0.001). Furthermore, grades of US and SE also had a positive correlation (r = 0.723, p = <0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: SE is valuable in the detection of the intratendinous and peritendinous alterations of the SSP tendon and has excellent interobserver reliability and excellent correlation with MRI findings and conventional ultrasonography findings.

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