Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I've been told that an MRA would be better than an MRI to evaluate my shoulder for rotator cuff tear. It's also more expensive. Is it really worth the added cost?


Studies show that magnetic resonance arthrography (MRA) does add to what an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can show.

With MRA, a contrast dye is injected into the joint. Since there's already some synovial fluid in the joint, the added fluid pushes against the joint capsule.

The colored fluid then moves into every nook and cranny of the joint. It outlines the structures and leaks into any areas of damage. MRA can show any changes in the normal structure of the shoulder. It shows tears in the capsule, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.

If you're thinking about having shoulder surgery, the MRA will help the surgeon plan the best surgical method for the problem.

Hiromitsu Toyoda, MD, et al. Evaluation of Rotator Cuff Tears with Magnetic Resonance Arthrography. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. October 2005. Vol. 439. Pp. 109-115.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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