Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Shoulder Arthroplasty

HSS Journal Volume 10, Number 3 October 2014

O. Kenechi Nwawka, MD

Department of Radiology and Imaging, Hospital for Special Surgery

Gabrielle P. Konin, MD

Assistant Attending Radiologist, Hospital for Special Surgery
Assistant Professor of Radiology and Imaging, Weill Cornell Medical College

Darryl B. Sneag, MD

Department of Radiology and Imaging, Hospital for Special Surgery

Lawrence V. Gulotta, MD
Lawrence V. Gulotta, MD
Assistant Attending Orthopaedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery
Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College
Hollis G. Potter, MD
Hollis G. Potter, MD

Chairman, Division of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Attending Radiologist, Hospital for Special Surgery
Professor of Radiology, Weill College of Medicine of Cornell University


Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging evaluation of the painful failed shoulder arthroplasty is a useful imaging modality due to advancements in metal artifact reduction techniques, which allow assessment of the integrity of the supporting soft-tissue envelope and the implant.

The focus of this pictorial review is to illustrate the benefits of MR imaging, whether used alone or as an adjunct to other imaging modalities, in aiding the clinician in the complex decision making process.

A PubMed (MEDLINE) search focusing on the complications and imaging assessment of shoulder arthroplasty was performed. Articles were selected for review based on their pertinence to the aforementioned topics.

We discuss the ability of MR imaging to identify why a patient’s arthroplasty may have failed. Specific causes including component loosening and implant failure, rotator cuff and deltoid integrity, infection, subtle fractures, and nerve pathology are reviewed, with illustrative sample images.

MRI is a valuable tool in the assessment for pathology in the shoulder following arthroplasty.

This article appears in HSS Journal: Volume 10, Issue 3.
View the full HSS Journal article at

About the HSS Journal

HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal published three times a year, February, July and October. The Journal accepts and publishes peer reviewed articles from around the world that contribute to the advancement of the knowledge of musculoskeletal diseases and disorders.


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