PURPOSE: Subscapularis tendon tears can complicate shoulder arthroplasty because the subscapularis tendon is typically divided surgically to gain access to the joint. The purpose of this study is to document the prevalence of subscapularis tears on sonography of symptomatic postarthroplasty shoulders. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed official reports of shoulder sonograms performed over an 11-year period by one experienced radiologist. Sonographic findings in 112 (mean age, 61.7 years; age range, 38-87 years; 40% female) symptomatic patients who had undergone either total shoulder arthroplasty or hemiarthroplasty were compared with findings in both a symptomatic control group consisting of 209 patients (mean age, 55.2 years; age range, 32-79 years; 37% female) who had undergone surgery for rotator cuff repair but no arthroplasty, and an asymptomatic control group consisting of 11 (mean age, 66 years; age range, 61-77 years; 45% female) volunteers who had shoulder arthroplasty but were without complaints. RESULTS: The prevalence of subscapularis tears in arthroplasty patients (51%, 57/112) was higher (p < 0.0001) than that of rotator cuff repair patients (16%, 33/209). In the asymptomatic volunteers, subscapularis tears (9%, 1/11) were less common (p < 0.01) than in the symptomatic patients. CONCLUSIONS: Subscapularis tendon tears are a common sonographic finding in symptomatic postarthroplasty shoulders.
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