Hamstring muscle complex: an imaging review

Radiographics. 2005 May-Jun;25(3):571-86. doi: 10.1148/rg.253045711.


Increasing activity in the general population and the high demands placed on athletes have resulted in injuries to the hamstring muscle complex (HMC) being commonplace in sports. Imaging of HMC injuries can form a considerable part of a sports medicine practice, with a wide spectrum of such injuries being reflected in their varied imaging appearances. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and ultrasonography (US) are the imaging modalities of choice in this setting. Both MR imaging and US provide exquisitely detailed information about the HMC with respect to localization and characterization of injury. Optimization of MR imaging involves the use of a surface coil and high-resolution techniques, allowing the musculoskeletal radiologist not only to diagnose injury and assess severity but also to provide the clinician with useful clues with respect to prognosis. The portability and availability of US make it an attractive modality for the diagnosis of acute hamstring injuries, although its effectiveness is dependent on operator experience. A thorough knowledge of the HMC anatomy and of the spectrum of imaging findings in HMC injury is crucial for providing optimal patient care and will enable the musculoskeletal radiologist to make an accurate and useful contribution to the treatment of athletes at all levels of participation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Athletic Injuries / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Thigh*
  • Ultrasonography