Objective: To evaluate stress fractures in leg (particularly around the knee, tibia, and femur) and knee pathology in active asymptomatic (no symptoms in the preceding month) soccer players.
Method: The study included 42 asymptomatic soccer players (21 women, 21 men; age range 19–31 years). Players from seven teams in the major female professional and amateur male soccer leagues were examined by technetium-99m-methylene diphosphonate (99mTc-MDP) bone scintigraphy during the soccer season. Four hours after intravenous injection of 20 mCi 99mTc-MDP, standard imaging included anterior planar spot images of the legs, lateral images of the knee, and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT).
Results: Although the players were asymptomatic, increased tracer uptake, indicating stress fracture, was found in 28 (66%). Most of the stress fractures were in the tibia (62%) and femur (5%). In the 42 subjects (84 legs), 35 sites (42%) showed rupture of the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus and bone bruising of the tibial plateau, 16 sites (19%) showed rupture of the anterior horn of the medial meniscus, 11 sites (13%) showed bone bruising of the lateral femoral condyle, eight sites (10%) showed bone bruising of the medial femoral condyle, and there was avulsion injury to the infrapatellar tendon insertion in the anterior tibia in 34 sites (40%). There were 11 anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
Conclusion: Bone SPECT is very accurate, easy to perform, cost effective, may give valuable information before magnetic resonance imaging studies in the detection of meniscal tears, and may be used successfully when magnetic resonance imaging is unavailable.
- soccer players
- single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)
- ACL, anterior cruciate ligament
- MDP, methylene diphosphonate
- MRI, magnetic resonance imaging
- SPECT, single photon emission computed tomography
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