Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Adhesive Capsulitis: Correlation with Clinical Staging, 2008

Topics: adhesive capsulitis, shoulder, magnetic resonance imaging

Authors: Carolyn M. Sofka, Gina A. Ciavarra, Jo A. Hannafin, Frank A. Cordasco and Hollis G. Potter


The purpose of this study was to evaluate non-contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings of adhesive capsulitis and correlate them with clinical stages of adhesive capsulitis. This will hopefully define a role for shoulder MR imaging in the diagnosis of adhesive capsulitis as well as in potentially directing appropriate treatment. Forty-seven consecutive non-contrast magnetic resonance imaging examinations of 46 patients with a clinical diagnosis of adhesive capsulitis were retrospectively reviewed and correlated with clinical staging. Specific MRI criteria correlated with the clinical stage of adhesive capsulitis, including the thickness and signal intensity of the joint capsule and synovium as well as the presence and severity of scarring in the rotator interval. Routine MRI of the shoulder without intraarticular administration of gadolinium can be used to diagnose all stages of adhesive capsulitis, including stage 1, where findings may be subtle on clinical examination. We believe that future studies assessing the role of MRI in guiding the initiation of appropriate treatment should be undertaken.

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