For citation purposes: Stevic R, Dodic M. Ultrasonography of tendon abnormalities. OA Musculoskeletal Medicine 2013 Jun 01;1(2):12.

Critical review


Ultrasonography of tendon abnormalities

R Stevic,, M Dodic

Authors affiliations

(1) Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Dr Subotica 8, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia

(2) Center of Radiology and Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Clinical Centre of Serbia, Pasterova 2, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia

(3) Radiology Practice, Rige od Fere 22, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia

* Corresponding author Emails:,



Tendon abnormalities are common musculoskeletal disorders. Accurate and timely diagnosis of tendon abnormalities is essential to ensure proper treatment and to prevent tendon disability. The purpose of this critical article is to describe the sonographic characteristic of different tendon abnormalities.

Material and methods

A retrospective review of ultrasonography images of patients with different tendon abnormalities was conducted and the results of analysis were compared with the published literature data.


The study included 149 patients (105 male patients, 44 female patients), with average age of 47.4 ± 16, with 157 affected tendons. The most affected tendon in our patients was supraspinatus tendon, followed by Achilles tendon and patellar ligament. Dominant pathologic finding was tendinosis in 83 cases, with chronic tendinosis to be more frequent. Partial-thickness tear was detected in 35 cases, the most common occurred in supraspinatus tendon. Full-thickness tear was revealed in 11 patients, with Achilles tendon being the most common. Tenosynovitis was diagnosed in 18 cases. In 8 of 13 cases, tenosynovitis of long head of the biceps tendon was associated with abnormalities of the supraspinatus tendon. In five cases, tenosynovitis of wrist and hand tendons was detected. Tendon tumour was detected in 10 patients, seven ganglion cysts and three giant cell tumours of tendon sheath. Results of our study are similar to those in the published literature data.


Musculoskeletal sonography is well suited for evaluating tendons. In most cases, its accuracy is at least equivalent to that of magnetic resonance imaging for imaging tendon abnormalities. But the advantages of sonography, such as accessibility, low cost, dynamic capability and needle guidance make it as a first-line imaging technique in tendons evaluation. Although operator dependence is an often quoted disadvantage of sonography, experienced musculoskeletal radiologists can perform effective tendon evaluation and quickly detect the abnormality.


Ultrasound is an efficient and accurate imaging method for evaluation of tendon abnormalities. Like magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasonography is a technique that affords anatomic images in multiple planes and that may provide information about tissue characterisation.

Licensee OA Publishing London 2013. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY)