MR imaging of the knee in marathon runners before and after competition

Skeletal Radiol. 2001 Feb;30(2):72-6. doi: 10.1007/s002560000296.


Objective: To evaluate the findings in MRI-studies of the knee in recreational long-distance runners after competition and to assess the reversibility of the findings.

Design and patients: Eight recreational long-distance runners underwent MRI studies of the knee before, immediately after and 6-8 weeks after taking part in the Vienna City Marathon. The studies were evaluated regarding alterations of pre-existing lesions and new pathological findings.

Results: In six runners without major pre-existing alterations no negative effects were experienced. In one runner with pre-existing grade III alterations of the menisci, signs of progressive osteoarthritis were experienced 2 months after the competition. In all other cases increased meniscal signal alterations and minor signal changes in the bone marrow after the race were transitory.

Conclusion: In healthy individuals no negative long-term-effects were experienced. Pre-existing high-grade lesions of the menisci might be a predisposing risk for osteoarthritis, triggered by the stress of long-distance running.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Edema / pathology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Running*
  • Synovial Fluid
  • Tendons / pathology