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The magnetic resonance imaging appearance of the anterolateral ligament of the knee in association with anterior cruciate rupture

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Abstract

Objective

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) appearance of the anterolateral ligament (ALL) has been described. However, the appearance of this structure and injury, in the presence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, is less well defined. We studied the incidence of injury to the ALL and the pattern of this injury on MRI.

Materials and methods

Following Institutional Review Board approval, a retrospective study of 375 consecutive MRI studies was performed. Cases were identified from a prospective database of ACL reconstruction patients. Following exclusions, 280 MRIs (277 patients; 197 males: 80 females; mean age 30.2 years, range, 16–54) were evaluated. Injury was defined as full thickness, partial thickness, or an avulsion fracture. Each study was independently assessed by two consultant musculoskeletal radiologists.

Results

Injury to the ALL was identified (by at least one observer) in only 10.7% of cases (2.50% full thickness, 7.50% partial thickness, and 0.71% avulsion fracture). There was an almost perfect level of interobserver agreement for both the identification of an injury (κ = 0.854) and grading of injury (κ = 0.858). The MRI incidence of ALL injury was significantly greater within 6 weeks of the knee injury (18.5 vs. 8.37%; p < 0.05).

Conclusions

ALL injury was identified in only one-tenth of cases of ACL rupture. MRI changes can be reliably identified with strong agreement between observers. ALL injury is found more frequently on MRI within 6 weeks of the knee injury (compared to scans performed after this time period) suggesting that some injuries may resolve or become less visible.

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Correspondence to Jonathan D. Kosy.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Kosy, J.D., Schranz, P.J., Patel, A. et al. The magnetic resonance imaging appearance of the anterolateral ligament of the knee in association with anterior cruciate rupture. Skeletal Radiol 46, 1193–1200 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00256-017-2657-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00256-017-2657-y

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