Diagnosis of ACL and meniscal injuries: MR imaging of knee flexion versus extension compared to arthroscopy

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The aim of the study was to evaluate whether MR Imaging of the knee at 30° and 55° of flexion can improve the diagnosis of anterior cruciate ligament and menisci injuries compared to arthroscopy and imaging during extension of the knee joint. Knee joints from 40 patients with clinical suspicion of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture were examined using MRI while the knee joint was either extended or flexed at 30° and 55° of knee flexion. A standard MR knee coil was used at extension, whereas at 30° and 55° of flexion a non-metallic positioning device and a flexible surface coil was placed ventral to the patella. Sagittal T2-weighted TSE sequences were acquired. In 29 of 40 patients, arthroscopy results were compared to the MRI examinations. Image quality of MRI examinations was evaluated using a three-point rating scale in a blinded fashion. Images were compared between groups and rated as better quality, same quality, or worse quality. Additionally, each angle MRI was compared to arthroscopy results. Partial ACL ruptures were diagnosed with 63% accuracy using MR imaging at 30° and 55° of knee flexion compared to 50% accuracy during knee extension. MRI imaging of complete ACL ruptures resulted in 83% accuracy of diagnosis when imaged at 30° flexion, 93% accuracy at 55° flexion, and 83% accuracy at extension. The accuracy of diagnosing medial meniscus lesions was 73% at extension, 64% at 30° flexion and 73% at 55° of flexion. MR imaging was only able to diagnose lateral meniscus tears with 55% accuracy in all three knee positions. The diagnosis of meniscal tears was more difficult due to small peripheral tears. The improved results in the diagnosis of ACL tears in response to 30° flexion and in particular in response to 55° flexion were based on the fact that the anterior cruciate ligament moved further away from the intercondylar roof with increased knee flexion. During flexion the ligament tension decreased, which causes the anterior cruciate ligament to have cylindrical shape and therefore made visualization of the injury easier. In conclusion, MR Imaging of the knee at 55° of flexion and less at 30° of flexion allows an improved diagnosis of injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament as compared to MRI examinations at extension. The diagnosis of meniscal injuries, however, was not superior at both flexion positions compared to commonly performed examinations at knee extension. © 2013 Muhle et al.




Muhle, C., Ahn, J. M., & Dieke, C. (2013). Diagnosis of ACL and meniscal injuries: MR imaging of knee flexion versus extension compared to arthroscopy. SpringerPlus, 2(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1186/2193-1801-2-213

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