UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Utilization of MRI in surgical decision making in the shoulder Simon, Maciej J. K.; Regan, William D.


Background The aim of this study is to evaluate both the utility of MRI scans and reports used in the current practice routine of shoulder surgeons and their surgical decision-making process. Methods Ninety-three shoulder-specialised orthopaedic surgeons of the Canadian Shoulder and Elbow Society (CSES) Orthopaedic Association were surveyed in 2020 anonymously online to help identify the use of MR-imaging and reports in managing shoulder disorders and surgical decision process. Results Thirty out of 93 (32.25%) CSES fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons participated. Respondents request MRI scans in about 55% of rotator cuff (RC) pathology and 48% of shoulder instability cases. Fifty percent of patients with potential RC pathology arrive with a completed MRI scan prior first orthopaedic consult. Their surgical decision is primarily based on patient history (45–55%) and physical examination (23–42%) followed by MRI scan review (2.6–18%), reading MRI reports (0–1.6%) or viewing other imaging (3–23%) depending on the shoulder disease. Ninety percent of surgeons would not decide on surgery in ambiguous cases unless the MR-images were personally reviewed. Respondents stated that shoulder MRI scans are ordered too frequently prior specialist visit as identified in more than 50% of cases depending on pathology. Conclusions The decision-making process for shoulder surgery depends on the underlying pathology and patient history. The results demonstrate that orthopaedic surgeons are comfortable reviewing shoulder MRI scans without necessarily reading the MRI report prior to a surgical decision. MRI scans are becoming an increasingly important part of surgical management in shoulder pathologies but should not be used without assessment of patient history and or physical examination.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)