Objective: The purpose of our study was to evaluate the knees of asymptomatic high-level collegiate basketball players before the beginning of the basketball season to gain an understanding of nonclinical findings in this patient population.
Subjects and methods: Bilateral knee MR imaging examinations of 17 varsity basketball players (12 men and five women) were performed before basketball season began. All of the subjects were imaged on a 1.5-T magnet. The MR imaging studies were reviewed by two musculoskeletal radiologists. Structures analyzed were the menisci, ligaments, cartilage, plicae, and bone marrow. The presence of a joint effusion was also noted.
Results: Fourteen (41%) of the 34 knees had bone marrow edema, eight (24%) showed signal in the patellar tendon, and 14 (41%) had abnormal cartilage signal or a focal abnormality. Twelve (35%) of the 34 knees showed a joint effusion. Two knees (6%) showed abnormal signal along the infrapatellar plica. Four knees (12%) were noted to have a discoid meniscus.
Conclusion: An MR examination of the knees of high-level collegiate basketball players may show changes unique to this population. The changes seen on MR imaging in these athletes may be asymptomatic abnormalities. For instance, changes suggestive of patellar tendinopathy were identified in these asymptomatic subjects.