Osgood-Schlatter lesion: fracture or tendinitis? Scintigraphic, CT, and MR imaging features

Radiology. 1992 Dec;185(3):853-8. doi: 10.1148/radiology.185.3.1438775.


To determine whether the Osgood-Schlatter lesion (OS) is produced by avulsion fracture or injury to the patellar tendon, all images obtained in 28 cases of OS in 20 patients (16 scintigrams, 34 computed tomographic [CT] scans, and 27 magnetic resonance [MR] images) were retrospectively analyzed. In 21 cases, imaging was performed before and after treatment; in 20 cases, relief from pain was complete at the time of repeat examination. In all patients (100%), abnormal size of the tendon, decreased attenuation, and increase in signal intensity were compatible with the CT and MR imaging appearance of tendinitis. Distended deep infrapatellar bursa was a frequent finding, particularly on MR studies. These abnormalities had partially disappeared at follow-up examination. An ossicle was seen in only nine of 28 cases (32%); in three of seven cases with follow-up, the ossicle remained nonunited to the tibial tuberosity on follow-up studies despite relief from symptoms. This implies that healing of fracture is not essential for relief from symptoms. These results strengthen the argument that in most cases of OS, insult to the tendon and associated soft tissues, rather than avulsion fracture, causes OS.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Osteochondritis / diagnosis*
  • Osteochondritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteochondritis / etiology*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tendinopathy / complications*
  • Tendons / diagnostic imaging
  • Tendons / pathology
  • Tibial Fractures / complications*
  • Tibial Fractures / diagnosis
  • Tibial Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed