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J Sci Med Sport. 2014 Mar;17(2):173-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2013.05.014. Epub 2013 Jul 7.

The prevalence of patellar tendinopathy in elite academy rugby: a clinical and imaging study.

Author information

  • 1St James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland. Electronic address: laurajanedurcan@hotmail.com.
  • 2Munster Rugby, Musgrave Park, Ballyphehane, Co. Cork, Ireland.
  • 3St James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 4Ulster Rugby, Belfast, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.
  • 5St Mary's University College, Twickenham, United Kingdom.
  • 6School of Physiotherapy, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.



Patellar tendinopathy (PT) is a challenging condition with variable outcomes. It is not commonly reported in rugby. This study was undertaken to evaluate the prevalence of PT in elite academy rugby.


Cross-sectional study.


Members of the rugby academies in Ireland were evaluated using blinded, standardised clinical examination, self reported questionnaires and ultrasound. Anthropometrics were examined, body mass and fat% were measured by bio-impedance. The Cincinnati Sports Activity Scale, established activity levels. The VISA-P scale evaluated symptoms. Ultrasound examination established tendon thickness, echogenicity and homogeneity including focal areas of tendinopathy in both transverse and longitudinal planes. Studies were reviewed and graded by two musculoskeletal radiologists. Statistical analysis was performed using PASW 18 and CIA software. Significance was set at p<.05.


Thirty individuals (36.1%) had US abnormalities identified with 38 abnormal tendons. The abnormalities seen were microcalculi (44.7%; N=17), thickened tendons ± large areas of cystic degenerative change (26.3%) and macrocalculi or large hypoechoic areas (28.9%; N=11). Eleven individuals (13.3%) fulfilled the clinical diagnosis of PT based on clinical examination. Combining both US and clinical the prevalence of PT in this cohort was 9.6% (N=8). There was a statistically significant difference between the prevalence of patellar tendinopathy based upon US findings (p=.027) and the combination of both clinical examination and US (p=.044) in different training academies.


This work shows that PT is a relatively common injury in elite academy rugby players and that training practices may contribute to its development.

Copyright © 2013 Sports Medicine Australia. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Patellar tendinopathy; Rugby; Sports injury

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