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Clinical relevance of MRI knee abnormalities in Australian rules football players: a longitudinal study


Aitken, D and Balogun, S and Foong, Y and Humphries, D and Laslett, L and Pitchford, N and Khan, H and Martel-Pelletier, J and Pelletier, J-P and Abram, F and Jin, X and Jones, G and Winzenberg, T, Clinical relevance of MRI knee abnormalities in Australian rules football players: a longitudinal study, BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 7, (3) ISSN 2055-7647 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2021-001097


Background/aim: The clinical relevance of MRI knee abnormalities in athletes is unclear. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of MRI knee abnormalities in Australian Rules Football (ARF) players and describe their associations with pain, function, past and incident injury and surgery history.

Methods: 75 male players (mean age 21, range 16-30) from the Tasmanian State Football League were examined early in the playing season (baseline). History of knee injury/surgery and knee pain and function were assessed. Players underwent MRI scans of both knees at baseline. Clinical measurements and MRI scans were repeated at the end of the season, and incident knee injuries during the season were recorded.

Results: MRI knee abnormalities were common at baseline (67% bone marrow lesions, 16% meniscal tear/extrusion, 43% cartilage defects, 67% effusion synovitis). Meniscal tears/extrusion and synovial fluid volume were positively associated with knee symptoms, but these associations were small in magnitude and did not persist after further accounting for injury history. Players with a history of injury were at a greater risk of having meniscal tears/extrusion, effusion synovitis and greater synovial fluid volume. In contrast, players with a history of surgery were at a greater risk of having cartilage defects and meniscal tears/extrusion. Incident injuries were significantly associated with worsening symptoms, BML development and incident meniscal damage.

Conclusions: MRI abnormalities are common in ARF players, are linked to a previous knee injury and surgery history, as well as incident injury but do not dictate clinical symptomatology.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Australian Rules Football, magnetic resonance imaging, injury, pain
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Allied health and rehabilitation science
Research Field:Physiotherapy
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Diagnosis of human diseases and conditions
UTAS Author:Aitken, D (Associate Professor Dawn Aitken)
UTAS Author:Foong, Y (Dr Yi Chao Foong)
UTAS Author:Laslett, L (Dr Laura Laslett)
UTAS Author:Pitchford, N (Dr Nathan Pitchford)
UTAS Author:Khan, H (Dr Hussain Khan)
UTAS Author:Jones, G (Professor Graeme Jones)
UTAS Author:Winzenberg, T (Professor Tania Winzenberg)
ID Code:147042
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Health Sciences
Deposited On:2021-10-12
Last Modified:2021-11-05

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