Article Text

other Versions

MRI findings in the lumbar spine of asymptomatic adolescent elite tennis players
  1. Faisal Alyas (faisal.alyas{at}
  1. Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, United Kingdom
    1. Michael Turner (michael.turner{at}
    1. The Lawn Tennis Association, United Kingdom
      1. David Connell (david.connell{at}
      1. Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, United Kingdom


        Objective: To describe MRI findings in the Lumbar Spines of a group of asymptomatic, elite, adolescent tennis players. This will serve as the baseline for a future, prospective, longitudinal cohort study.

        Design: Observational study.

        Setting: Institutional, National Tennis Centre.

        Participants: 33 asymptomatic elite adolescent tennis players (17.3+/-1.7 years, 18 males, 15 females).

        Interventions: Sagittal T1, T2, STIR, and axial T2 weighted MRI images.

        Main Outcome Measurements: Images were reviewed for the presence of abnormalities by two radiologists in consensus. These included: disc degeneration, disc herniation, pars lesions (fracture or stress reaction), and facet joint arthropathy.

        Results: 5/33(15.2%) players had a normal and 28/33 (84.8%) an abnormal MRI examination. 9/33 players showed pars lesions (one at two levels) predominately at the L5 level (9/10-L5, 1/10-L4). 3/10 lesions were complete fractures, two demonstrated grade 1 and one grade 2 spondylolisthesis, both of which resulted in moderate narrowing of the L5 exit foramen. 2/10 had acute and 5/10 chronic stress reactions of the pars. 23/33 patients showed signs of early facet arthropathy occurring at the L5/S1 (15/29 joints) and L4/5 (12/29 joints) levels. These were classified as mild degeneration (20/29) and moderate degeneration (9/29), with 20/29 showing sclerosis and 24/29 showing hypertrophy of the facet joint. Synovial cysts were identified in 14/29 patients. 13/33 players showed disc desiccation and a disc bulge (mild-13/15 and moderate-2/15) most frequently at the L4/5 and L5/S1 levels (12/15 discs).

        Conclusions: Abnormalities occurred commonly, predominately in the lower lumbar spine, almost exclusively at the L4/5 and L5/S1 levels. Pars injuries and facet joint arthrosis are relatively common.

        • Facet joint arthropathy
        • Lumbar spine
        • MRI
        • Spondylolysis
        • Tennis player

        Statistics from

        Request permissions

        If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

        Linked Articles