The Rotator Interval: A Review of Anatomy, Function, and Normal and Abnormal MRI Appearance

Authors: Catherine N. Petchprapa1, Luis S. Beltran1, Laith M. Jazrawi2, Young W. Kwon2, James S. Babb1 and Michael P. Recht1

1 Department of Radiology, New York University Langone Medical Center, RRH 2nd 229, 400 E 34th St., New York, NY 10016.

2 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY.


OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this article is to review imaging of the rotator interval, an anatomically complex region in the shoulder that plays an important role in the normal function of the shoulder joint. The rotator interval can be difficult to evaluate by imaging, and it is not routinely evaluated arthroscopically unless the clinical examination or imaging findings suggest an abnormality of the rotator interval. Rotator interval pathology is implicated in glenohumeral instability, biceps instability and adhesive capsulitis—entities which remain a challenge to diagnose and treat.

CONCLUSION. Imaging can play an important role in increasing suspicion for injury to the rotator interval so that this region can be evaluated and appropriate treatment can be initiated.