Imaging techniques for muscle injury in sports medicine and clinical relevance

Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2015 Jun;8(2):154-61. doi: 10.1007/s12178-015-9260-4.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound are the imaging modalities of choice to assess muscle injuries in athletes. Most authors consider MRI as the reference standard for evaluation of muscle injuries, since it superiorly depicts the extent of injuries independently of its temporal evolution, and due to the fact that MRI seems to be more sensitive for the detection of minimal injuries. Furthermore, MRI may potentially allow sports medicine physicians to more accurately estimate recovery times of athletes sustaining muscle injuries in the lower limbs, as well as the risk of re-injury. However, based on data available, the specific utility of imaging (including MRI) regarding its prognostic value remains limited and controversial. Although high-quality imaging is systematically performed in professional athletes and data extracted from it may potentially help to plan and guide management of muscle injuries, clinical (and functional) assessment is still the most valuable tool to guide return to competition decisions.