Soft tissue injuries to the shoulder


Q: A year and a half ago I had a reverse cuff total shoulder replacement surgery done. Last month I tore something in the shoulder and both Xray and CT indicate hardware is in-tact and there are no fractures. How can a tear in the soft tissue of the shoulder be diagnosed or confirmed with the hardware?

Symptoms:  Initially: Sharp burning pain in the upper arm. Followed by continued pain, achy, and I am unable to lift my arm more than about 15 degrees from the side.

A:   Thank you for your question. The X ray would have been conducted to assess the integrity of the total shoulder replacement. The computed tomography (CT) scan would illustrated the soft tissue damage and tear(s). Computed tomography uses x rays to visualize bone, ligament, tendons, and muscles based on their varying densities. A muscle tear within the rotator cuff can be accurately visualized on computed tomography.

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