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Eur Radiol. 2004 May;14(5):857-64. Epub 2003 Nov 11.

Ultrasonographic rotator-cuff changes in veteran tennis players: the effect of hand dominance and comparison with clinical findings.

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Department of Radiology, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, 47-83 boulevard de l'Hôpital, 75651 Paris Cedex 13, France.


The aim of this study was to correlate sonographic abnormalities of the rotator cuff with clinical findings in veteran tennis players. One hundred fifty individuals playing competition-level tennis, aged from 35 to 77 years (mean age 55 years), underwent physical and US examinations of their shoulders. The US abnormalities found in the dominant shoulder were compared with those observed in the non-dominant shoulder and in different subsets of players defined by the absence or presence of former and/or current pain. Tears of the long head of the biceps tendon were seen only in dominant shoulders ( n=8), and tears (23 complete and 20 partial) of the supraspinatus tendon were observed in 43 dominant vs 16 (3 complete and 13 partial) contralateral shoulders ( p<0.001). Subscapularis tendon calcifications were depicted in 23 dominant vs 12 contralateral shoulders ( p<0.05). Seventy players had no pain, 49 had former-but-not-current pain, and 31 had current pain. Abnormal thickening (>2 mm) and effusion of the subacromial-subdeltoid bursa and complete tear of the supraspinatus tendon were more frequent in the latter two groups ( p<0.001 and p<0.05), respectively. Although 90% of the players with a complete supraspinatus tear had experienced former pain, no relationship was found between current pain and the presence of a supraspinatus tear or tendon calcification. The rotator cuff may present important asymptomatic lesions, such as complete tears of the supraspinatus tendon or calcifications, that do not prevent the playing competitive tennis. The only US abnormality associated with pain was subacromial-subdeltoid bursa effusion.

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