What is a Shoulder Ultrasound?


A shoulder ultrasound is a procedure that uses ultrasound imaging primarily to evaluate the rotator cuff and its surrounding soft tissues. The rotator cuff consists of a group of muscles and tendons which act to stabilise the shoulder joint. It is the most commonly requested Musculoskeletal ultrasound test and provides a dynamic assessment of the shoulder.

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Shoulder Ultrasound

What happens during a Shoulder Ultrasound?

A. Before your scan

What to bring

  • Your request form
  • Any relevant previous imaging
  • Your Medicare card and any concession cards

Preparation – the day of your procedure

There is no specific preparation and you may eat and drink as desired before and after the procedure. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding your health status, medication, and any known allergies. You may also be asked to change into a gown and remove some jewellery for your scan.

B. During your Shoulder Ultrasound


You will be made comfortable on the examination table. Gel will be applied to the area being imaged to help create a good contact between you and the ultrasound probe. The probe will be placed directly onto the gel and your skin for the duration of the examination.

Your ultrasound will be performed by a Radiologist (medical specialist) or a sonographer (a specially trained technologist). Because the examiner is interpreting moving images on a screen a high degree of concentration is required.

The Biceps tendon, Subscapularis, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, and Teres Minor tendons are all imaged with the arm placed in certain positions as required. The Glenohumeral joint, AC joint, Spinoglenoid notch, Suprascapular notch, and Subacromial bursa are also carefully scrutinised under imaging. The most common types of abnormalities diagnosed with this test are tendon tears, tendinosis (inflammation of the tendon), and subacromial bursitis.

Ultrasound examinations are not painful and generally not invasive but may be uncomfortable, particularly if you must move a body part that causes you discomfort. A radiologist may also assess the shoulder afterwards.

Most ultrasound examinations will be completed within 30 minutes. It is not unusual for the radiologist to come in and speak with you and view the images on the screen. At the end of the procedure the gel is simply wiped from your skin so that it does not mark your clothes.

Risks and side effects

Ultrasounds are a very low risk procedure and complications are rare however you should be informed of the possible risks and side effects.

Risks associated with this procedure include:

  • If scanning is performed over an area of tenderness, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer.

Any medical procedure can potentially be associated with unpredictable risks.

Who will perform my Shoulder Ultrasound?

Your ultrasound examination will be carried out by a sonographer (a technologist trained in ultrasound imaging)

Shoulder Ultrasound

What happens after a Shoulder Ultrasound?

How do I get my results?

After your appointment, the information from your scan is interpreted by Envision’s Radiologist before delivery of a report to your doctor.


You should be able to go about your daily activities after your appointment.