Updated: Feb 26
Currently, the best diagnostic tool available for evaluating the internal derangement of the shoulder joint is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Properly interpreted, MRI images of the shoulder can help in not only the detection of shoulder disorders but can help in treatment planning and prognostication.
Why MRI Is The Diagnostic Imaging Standard For The Shoulder
Other imaging techniques such as ultrasound, CT, and x-ray are clinically limited. These imaging techniques cannot penetrate the bone and can only image the outer surfaces of the bony structure. MRI, on the other hand, is a proven and established imaging modality with the sensitivity needed to evaluate disorders impacting the ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissue, as well as, the interior and exterior of the bones. Common shoulder disorders ranging from impingement, rotator cuff tears, biceps tenosynovitis and instability, labral tears, soft tissues masses, and arthritis of the glenohumeral can be easily be identified with MRI. As new technologies and techniques have improved the spatial imaging of the shoulder joint, MRI has played an increasingly important role as a noninvasive diagnostic procedure for shoulder dysfunction.
As with most MRI, a dedicated antenna set or “coil” is used to enhance the signal reception from that anatomical location for which it was designed to image. However, not all coils, and certainly, not all MRI shoulder coils are created equally.
Why Which MRI Shoulder Coil You Use Matters
A localized MRI shoulder coil for any scanner needs to have the individual coils elements be fully optimized for the target area in order to create the best homogeneity and signal-to-noise-ratio. SNR translates to image quality in terms of diagnostic resolution, and properly designed antenna geometries result in better homogeneity as well. The differentiating factor between high and low-quality imaging comes down to the MRI shoulder coil design. Furthermore, the anatomical complexities and variations of the shoulder joint present both mechanical (ergonomic) and electronics design challenges that few companies have truly mastered.
The Limitations Of Standard MRI Shoulder Coils
Most of the early released and OEM commercially available shoulder coils often have design limitations that reduce their ability to provide appropriate the requisite resolution (slice thickness, FOV, and signal intensity needed). The two most common styles of shoulder MRI coils include convexed hard shell coils and fully- flexible surface coils. Hard shell coils provide good 3-D imaging of the shoulder region; however, they do not sit close enough to the surface of the wide variety of patient habitus in order to yield the best SNR or resolution. Fully flexible shoulder coils typically provide improved image quality superficially but lack optimal penetration for the best resolution of the central shoulder anatomy such as the rotator cuff. Further, the long flexible wrap designs extend too far medially; hence exacerbate artifacts from breathing motion and wrap of chest anatomy. These design limitations create the conditions for poor images, potentially leading skilled Radiologists to false positives and misdiagnosis.
How ScanMed’s SemiFlex™ Shoulder Coil Overcomes These Limitations
ScanMed’s SemiFlex™ MRI Shoulder Coil’s trademark design used a rigid hard-shell coil spline and two flexible sides that bring the antennae elements close to the shoulder for precision imaging. The element density and semi-flexible layout of the antennae facilitates repeatable positioning, optimal coverage of the entire 3D joint and optimal image quality due to consistent conforming to various sized anatomies. The coil holds firmly in place with Velcro fasteners, yet can support supine and abduction external rotation (ABER) positioning. This innovative coil design helps over overcome the common motion-created artifacts of phase-encoded motion.
A Shoulder Coil That Meets The Needs Of Today’s More Aggressive Protocols
The high performance of the SemiFlex™ MRI Shoulder Coil provides the sensitivity needed to perform the most exacting protocols while reducing the image interference of patient movement, anatomical predilection, and scanner limitations, leading to both less scan time and higher quality imaging. The high-quality images provided by Scanmed’s shoulder coil offer the uniformity, accuracy, and SNR required for accurate detection, evaluation, assessment, staging, and follow-up of all common shoulder disorders.
MRI imaging is the best diagnostic technology for shoulder dysfunction. However, regardless of the quality your scanner, Radiologist expertise, or patient compliance, to properly perform a scan, you need the right MRI shoulder coil. ScanMed’s SemiFlex™ MRI Shoulder Coil offers unparalleled imaging and can ensure that you are given the best images on the market for accurate interpretation.
If you’d like to learn more about our SemiFlex™ MRI Shoulder Coil, check out our product page for images and product specifications. You can also email our expert technical team to answer any questions you may have about any of our products.