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

Aitken, D ORCID: 0000-0001-5685-7634, Balogun, S, Foong, Y, Humphries, D, Laslett, L ORCID: 0000-0002-4336-0095, Pitchford, N ORCID: 0000-0003-3169-9347, Khan, H, Martel-Pelletier, J, Pelletier, J-P, Abram, F, Jin, X, Jones, G ORCID: 0000-0002-9814-0006 and Winzenberg, T ORCID: 0000-0002-4112-3491 2021 , 'Clinical relevance of MRI knee abnormalities in Australian rules football players: a longitudinal study' , BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, vol. 7, no. 3 , doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2021-001097.

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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 Type: Article
Authors/Creators: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
Keywords: Australian Rules Football, magnetic resonance imaging, injury, pain
Journal or Publication Title: BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
ISSN: 2055-7647
DOI / ID Number: 10.1136/bmjsem-2021-001097
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