Magnetic resonance imaging of the knee in asymptomatic professional basketball players

Arthroscopy. 2005 May;21(5):557-61. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2005.01.009.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of articular cartilage lesions and meniscal tears on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in the knees of asymptomatic male professional basketball players.

Type of study: A retrospective review.

Methods: Twenty players (40 knees) met the inclusion criteria of being signed by a National Basketball Association team and passing their preseason physical examination. All included athletes were assessed for the presence of articular cartilage lesions, meniscal pathology, and the presence of effusions.

Results: The overall prevalence of articular cartilage lesions on MRI was 47.5% in our study group. There were trochlear groove articular lesions in 25%. The lateral femoral condyle was involved in 2.5% of all knees. The medial femoral condyle was affected in 10% of all knees. The lateral tibial plateau showed articular cartilage lesions in 5%. The patella had articular cartilage lesions in 35%. The overall prevalence of various grade meniscal lesions was 20% on MRI. Medial intra-meniscal signals accounted for 87.5% and 12.5% on the lateral side.

Conclusions: The results of our study show an equal to or higher prevalence of meniscal lesions in male professional basketball players than previously reported in the literature. We found a large number of patella-femoral articular cartilage lesions in our study population of male professional basketball players. These athletes perform at the highest demand level, which indicates that the presence of these lesions did not cause any symptoms.

Level of evidence: Level IV, case series.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Baseball*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / pathology
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology*
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Menisci, Tibial / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tibia / pathology
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries