Correlation of MRI findings with clinical findings of trochanteric pain syndrome

Skeletal Radiol. 2008 Oct;37(10):903-9. doi: 10.1007/s00256-008-0514-8. Epub 2008 Jun 20.


Objective: Greater trochanter pain syndrome due to tendinopathy or bursitis is a common cause of hip pain. The previously reported magnetic resonance (MR) findings of trochanteric tendinopathy and bursitis are peritrochanteric fluid and abductor tendon abnormality. We have often noted peritrochanteric high T2 signal in patients without trochanteric symptoms. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the MR findings of peritrochanteric fluid or hip abductor tendon pathology correlate with trochanteric pain.

Materials and methods: We retrospectively reviewed 131 consecutive MR examinations of the pelvis (256 hips) for T2 peritrochanteric signal and abductor tendon abnormalities without knowledge of the clinical symptoms. Any T2 peritrochanteric abnormality was characterized by size as tiny, small, medium, or large; by morphology as feathery, crescentic, or round; and by location as bursal or intratendinous. The clinical symptoms of hip pain and trochanteric pain were compared to the MR findings on coronal, sagittal, and axial T2 sequences using chi-square or Fisher's exact test with significance assigned as p < 0.05.

Results: Clinical symptoms of trochanteric pain syndrome were present in only 16 of the 256 hips. All 16 hips with trochanteric pain and 212 (88%) of 240 without trochanteric pain had peritrochanteric abnormalities (p = 0.15). Eighty-eight percent of hips with trochanteric symptoms had gluteus tendinopathy while 50% of those without symptoms had such findings (p = 0.004). Other than tendinopathy, there was no statistically significant difference between hips with or without trochanteric symptoms and the presence of peritrochanteric T2 abnormality, its size or shape, and the presence of gluteus medius or minimus partial thickness tears.

Conclusions: Patients with trochanteric pain syndrome always have peritrochanteric T2 abnormalities and are significantly more likely to have abductor tendinopathy on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, although the absence of peritrochanteric T2 MR abnormalities makes trochanteric pain syndrome unlikely, detection of these abnormalities on MRI is a poor predictor of trochanteric pain syndrome as these findings are present in a high percentage of patients without trochanteric pain.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthralgia / diagnosis*
  • Bursitis / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Syndrome
  • Young Adult