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Imaging the Shoulder

Patients are usually positioned for radiographs according to standard protocols that optimize detection of pathology. The standardization of views facilitates the differentiation of normal versus abnormal patterns. In the case of radiographs of the shoulder, the standard views are:

a. AP external rotation
b. AP internal rotation
c. Y-view (transthoracic)
d. Axillary

Two AP shoulder films are taken to improve visibility of components of the head of the humerus (the greater and lesser tubercles). The Y-view is used to evaluate traumatic dislocation. Axillary views, though less frequently needed, may be required to diagnosis shoulder dislocations, which can appear normal on AP films.

Also shown in this module is an image demonstrating the acromioclavicular joints (i.e. the acromioclavicular view). This type of film is often used to evaluate shoulder separation.