Quantitative assessment of rotator cuff muscle elasticity: Reliability and feasibility of shear wave elastography

Taku Hatta, Hugo Giambini, Kosuke Uehara, Seiji Okamoto, Shigao Chen, John W. Sperling, Eiji Itoi, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Ultrasound imaging has been used to evaluate various shoulder pathologies, whereas, quantification of the rotator cuff muscle stiffness using shear wave elastography (SWE) has not been verified. The purpose of this study was to investigate the reliability and feasibility of SWE measurements for the quantification of supraspinatus (SSP) muscle elasticity. Thirty cadaveric shoulders (18 intact and 12 with torn rotator cuff) were used. Intra- and inter-observer reliability was evaluated on an established SWE technique for measuring the SSP muscle elasticity. To assess the effect of overlying soft tissues above the SSP muscle, SWE values were measured with the transducer placed on the skin, on the subcutaneous fat after removing the skin, on the trapezius muscle after removing the subcutaneous fat, and directly on the SSP muscle. In addition, SWE measurements on 4 shoulder positions (0°, 30°, 60°, and 90° abduction) were compared in those with/without rotator cuff tears. Intra- and inter-observer reliability of SWE measurements were excellent for all regions in SSP muscle. Also, removing the overlying soft tissue showed no significant difference on SWE values measured in the SSP muscle. The SSP muscle with 0° abduction showed large SWE values, whereas, shoulders with large-massive tear showed smaller variation throughout the adduction-abduction positions. SWE is a reliable and feasible tool for quantitatively assessing the SSP muscle elasticity. This study also presented SWE measurements on the SSP muscle under various shoulder abduction positions which might help characterize patterns in accordance to the size of rotator cuff tears.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3853-3858
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Nov 5


  • Feasibility
  • Muscle elasticity
  • Reliability
  • Shear wave elastography
  • Supraspinatus muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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