Cartilage cannot be seen on X-rays, but the thickness of cartilage can be detected by observing the separation of the bones, the 'radiographic joint space'.
Let's take a look at how the shoulder should be x-rayed to diagnose shoulder arthritis and to plan a joint replacement.
In the shoulder, two X-ray views are essential for determining the 'joint space', the AP (anteroposterior) and the axillary views.
An AP view of a normal shoulder looks like this:
and an axillary view of a normal shoulder looks like this:
In each view one can see the separation of the ball from the socket due to the presence of cartilage in this normal right shoulder.
These views must be taken carefully to make sure that poor technique does not hide the true condition of the joint.
More about x-rays in arthritis can be found at this link.
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Here are some videos that are of shoulder interest
Shoulder arthritis - what you need to know (see this link).
How to x-ray the shoulder (see this link).
The ream and run procedure (see this link).
The total shoulder arthroplasty (see this link).
The cuff tear arthropathy arthroplasty (see this link).
The reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (see this link).
The smooth and move procedure for irreparable rotator cuff tears (see this link).
Shoulder rehabilitation exercises (see this link).