What Is An Ultrasound of the Shoulder Examination? 

An ultrasound scan is a painless test that allows live imaging of the inside of the body by using high frequency sound waves which are ‘reflected’ back to the probe from within the body. The human shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body.  It is located where the humerus (upper arm), clavicle (collarbone) and scapula (shoulder blade) meet.  The shoulder is made up of 4 joints:

  1. Glenohumeral joint also typically known as the ball and socket joint and allows for circular movement of the arm.

  2. Acromioclavicular joint which helps to raise the arm over the head and involves the clavicle and the acromion.

  3. Sternoclavicular joint where the clavicle meets the sternum at the top of the chest.

  4. Scapulothoracic joint is where the scapula glides across the thoracic rib cage at the back of the body.  

Shoulder ultrasound is consistently used in the assessment of these joints barring the scapulothoracic joint as this joint does not involve any ligaments that connect to the bone.  Ultrasound is quick painless and readily available and has an advantage over conventional MRI / CT as ultrasound is a dynamic examination.  This means ultrasound helps to evaluate the muscles, tendons, rotator cuff, ligaments and soft tissue that make up the shoulder joint upon movement in real time.

What is the Purpose of the scan?  

The purpose behind an ultrasound examination of the shoulder is to provide an ultrasonic assessment of the musculoskeletal structures and the rotator cuff.  They Include:

  • Abnormal fluid / inflammation of the shoulder

  • Biceps tendon

  • Subscapularis

  • Supraspinatus

  • Infraspinatus

  • Teres minor

  • Deltoid Muscle.

What Preparation Do I Need For This Scan? 

There is no preparation required for a shoulder ultrasound examination.

Please bring along any information / medical notes / reports which are in relation to a shoulder ultrasound examination as they may provide useful information for the scan. 

Common Indications for performing an Shoulder Ultrasound scan?  

Reasons why you should have an ultrasound examination of the shoulder include:

  • Pain.

  • Tears.

  • Rotator Cuff problems.

  • Impingement.

  • Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive capsulitis).

  • Biceps Rupture.

  • Tendinosis.

  • Bursitis.

  • Joint Effusion.

  • Vascular Pathology.

  • Post surgical complication i.e. oedema, abscess, haematoma.

  • Soft tissue masses i.e. lipoma, ganglia.

Why choose us?

The experience on your journey through our service is our priority, providing a relaxing, informative and window into the world of your shoulder. This is enabled with the latest ultrasound imaging technology and experienced expert sonographer’s with proven high quality imaging protocols, pathways and procedures in place. We are trusted by GP’s, doctors, physiotherapists, midwifes and many other healthcare professionals.

Furthermore we currently provide services to large national organisations and unlike other many other diagnostic clinics provide services to specific NHS organisations which require us to have in place extremely strict quality control measures.

Who will I see?

You will be cared for by a small team and seen by a specialist healthcare professional that has proven experience, and specialised in musculoskeletal ultrasound.  Unlike other diagnostic imaging ultrasound is “real time” imaging and the quality of the scan and ultimately the information you take away depends upon the expertise, experience & skill of the person scanning you.  This is an important point for consideration and hence why at Medison imaging you will always be seen by an expert who has vast expertise and experience in the field of Musculoskeletal ultrasound.



  • Patients who are unable to co-operate due to reduce cognitive functions e.g. dementia.

  • Patients who have had recent surgery, ultrasound visualisation maybe limited due to oedema, haematoma, surgical staples, dressings etc.

  • Ultrasound is complimentary with other imaging modalities such as X-Ray, CT, MRI and arthroscopy.