Patellar tendinopathy in junior basketball players: a controlled clinical and ultrasonographic study of 268 patellar tendons in players aged 14-18 years

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2000 Aug;10(4):216-20. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0838.2000.010004216.x.


Anterior knee pain is a common presenting complaint amongst adolescent athletes. We hypothesised that patellar tendinopathy may occur at a younger age than is generally recognised. Thus, we studied the patellar tendons in 134 elite 14- to 18-year-old female (n=64) and male (n=70) basketball players and 29 control swimmers (17 female, 12 male) clinically and with ultrasonography. We found that of 268 tendons, 19 (7%) had current patellar tendinopathy on clinical grounds (11% in males, 2% in females). Twenty-six percent of the basketball players' patellar tendons contained an ultrasonographic hypoechoic region. Ultrasonographic abnormality was more prevalent in the oldest tertile of players (17-18 years) than the youngest tertile (14-15.9 years). Of tendons categorised clinically as 'Never patellar tendinopathy', 22% had an ultrasonographic hypoechoic region nevertheless. This study indicates that patellar tendinopathy can occur in 14- to 18-year-old basketball players. Ultrasonographic tendon abnormality is 3 times as common as clinical symptoms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Basketball*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscular Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Patella
  • Prevalence
  • Swimming*
  • Tendons / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography