Radiographic analysis of lower limb alignment in professional football players
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To radiographically analyze lower limb alignment in adult asymptomatic professional football players and to correlate these values to clinical measurements.
Materials and methods
Twenty-four asymptomatic players [24.2 (3.6) years] were enrolled. Standard bilateral lower limb anteroposterior weight-bearing radiographs were acquired and clinical measurement of intercondylar/intermalleolar (ICD/IMD) distance was performed. Coronal plane mechanical alignment was assessed by five angles: leg mechanical axis (LMA), lateral proximal femoral angle (LPFA), lateral distal femoral angle (LDFA), medial proximal tibial angle (MPTA), and lateral distal tibial angle (LDTA). Their values were compared to the reference values for adult population. An inter-individual comparison between right/left and dominant/non-dominant leg was added. The sum of bilateral LMA was correlated against ICD/IMD and against ICD/IMD adjusted for body height.
Football players presented with ICD/IMD of 46.5 (19.8) mm. Two, out of five, lower leg coronal angles showed significant differences (p < 0.001) compared to reference data from literature: LMA 5.8 (3.0)º vs.1.2 (2.2)º and MPTA 83.5 (2.6)º vs. 87.2 (1.5)º. No significant differences between left/right leg and dominant/non-dominant leg were established. Summed up bilateral LMA showed a high correlation to IMD/ICD (r = 0.8395; R2 = 0.7048), and even higher to ICD/IMD adjusted for body height (r = 0.8543; R2 = 0.7298).
This study was radiographically confirming increased varus of elite football players toward general population. Apex of the varus deformity was located in the proximal tibia. Clinical measurement of ICD/IMD adjusted for body height highly correlated with the radiographic values of coronal alignment; therefore, it may be used in population studies.
KeywordsLower limb Alignment Coronal plane Mechanical axis Bowlegs Deformity Football
The authors are indebted to University Medical Centre Maribor (institutional research funding Grant Number IRP-2012/02-02) for financial support. We are very grateful to Martin Golob (Department of Radiology, University Medical Centre Maribor, Slovenia), for collaborating the study using software ViewForum R4.1 (Philips MD Eleva device). The authors thank also to all the participants—football players of NK Maribor, Slovenia.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests in relation to the presented work.
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