Journal Article
Systematic Review
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Clinical applications of ultrasonography in the shoulder for the Orthopedic Surgeon: A systematic review.

BACKGROUND: Ultrasound imaging offers a non-invasive method to visualize the anatomy and function of the musculoskeletal system. Despite its benefits and widespread adoption in medicine, ultrasonography is still not well utilized by orthopaedic surgeons. The purpose of this systematic review was to provide a better understanding of the diagnostic accuracy and clinical utility of ultrasound of the shoulder for orthopaedic surgeons.

METHODS: We searched Medline, Embase, Web of Science, and Scopus databases. Our search terms included orthopedic, orthopedic surgery, ultrasonography, and shoulder. Inclusion criteria consisted of studies that used bedside ultrasound for the diagnosis and therapy of patients with common clinical entities of the shoulder presenting to orthopedic clinics, to demonstrate the utility for orthopedic surgeons. We reported sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value. Studies were excluded if they used non-diagnostic ultrasound modalities (e.g. shock wave therapy, shear wave elastography, Doppler flowmetry, speckle tracking shear strain, vibro-acoustography).

RESULTS: Our search strategy yielded 771 of potentially relevant publications, 41 studies were retrieved for full text screening, and 24 were included in this systematic review. We found that ultrasound used in orthopedic clinics has good sensitivity and high specificity for the assessment of partial and full rotator cuff tears of the shoulder, including post-operative cuff repairs. There was some evidence that it may also be useful for the diagnosis of subacromial-subdeltoid bursitis, AC joint arthropathy, and labral tears; however further investigations are still required. Ultrasound improves that accuracy of injections into spaces of the shoulder (subacromial bursa, acromioclavicular joint, glenohumeral joints, and the long head of biceps tendon sheath) compared to landmark guided injections, that can be helpful for diagnostic purposes, but do not improve long term clinical outcomes.

DISCUSSION: We reviewed the literature for orthopaedic surgeons and show that ultrasound of the shoulder can be a useful diagnostic tool for orthopedic surgeons in outpatient clinics. We found no difference in sensitivity or specificity when ultrasound was performed at bedside by orthopedic surgeons or by radiologists for patients referred to orthopedic clinic.

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