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Bull Hosp Jt Dis. 2006;63(3-4):105-7.

Magnetic resonance imaging evaluation of the ulnar collateral ligament in young baseball pitchers less than 18 years of age.

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1
NYU-Hospital for Joint Diseases Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, 301 East 17th Street, Suite 1402, New York, New York 10003, USA.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

It has been shown that the asymptomatic, dominant elbow of professional baseball pitchers can demonstrate magnetic resonance (MR) imaging signal abnormalities of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) consistent with a strain. The purpose of this study was to determine if younger, asymptomatic, adolescent baseball pitchers exhibit similar signal abnormalities in the UCL.

METHODS:

Magnetic resonance images of both elbows of 14 asymptomatic, young male baseball pitchers (ranging in age from 12 to 20 years) were performed on an outpatient basis using a 1.5-T Sigma MRI unit with a dedicated extremity coil to obtain T1 and T2 coronal and axial images which were subsequently evaluated by a musculoskeletal radiologist. Chronic tears of the UCL were suspected if the signal was attenuated or absent. Magnetic resonance images of the UCL were also evaluated for high-intensity signal or thinning. Morphologic changes such as complete tears, avulsions or thickening were identified. The images were classified into 4 grades from 0 to 3 depending on the degree of signal abnormality.

RESULTS:

No discrete tears were found in any of the subjects. For the dominant pitching arm, 4 of 14 subjects had increased thickness of the ulnar collateral ligament, 3 of 14 demonstrated Grade 1 changes, and 11 of 14 demonstrated no abnormal signal within the ligament. No focal tears were present in any of the subjects. Contralateral elbows in 13 of 14 patients demonstrated Grade 0 signals with 1 patient demonstrating morphological thickening of the ligament without increased signal.

DISCUSSION:

Signal abnormalities in the throwing elbow of asymptomatic, adolescent pitchers were uncommon. These pitchers may not have experienced sufficient pitching time to develop changes in the UCL.

PMID:
16878828
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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