Diagnosis of Acute Groin Injuries: A Prospective Study of 110 Athletes

Am J Sports Med. 2015 Aug;43(8):1857-64. doi: 10.1177/0363546515585123. Epub 2015 May 14.


Background: Acute groin injuries are common in high-intensity sports, but there are insufficient data on injury characteristics such as injury mechanisms and clinical and radiological findings.

Purpose: To describe these characteristics in a cohort of athletes.

Study design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: A total of 110 male athletes (mean age, 25.6 ± 4.7 years) with sports-related acute groin pain were prospectively included within 7 days of injury from August 2012 to April 2014. Standardized history taking, a clinical examination, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and/or ultrasound (US) were performed.

Results: The most frequent injury mechanism in soccer was kicking (40%), and change of direction was most frequent in other sports (31%). Clinically, adductor injuries accounted for 66% of all injuries and primarily involved the adductor longus on imaging (91% US, 93% MRI). The iliopsoas and proximal rectus femoris were also frequently injured according to all examination modalities (15%-25%). Acute injury findings were negative in 22% of the MRI and 25% of the US examinations. Of the clinically diagnosed adductor injuries, 3% (US) and 6% (MRI) showed a radiological injury in a different location compared with 35% to 46% for clinically diagnosed iliopsoas and proximal rectus femoris injuries.

Conclusion: Adductor injuries account for the majority of acute groin injuries. Iliopsoas and proximal rectus femoris injuries are also common. More than 1 in 5 injuries showed no imaging signs of an acute injury. Clinically diagnosed adductor injuries were often confirmed on imaging, whereas iliopsoas and rectus femoris injuries showed a different radiological injury location in more than one-third of the cases. The discrepancy between clinical and radiological findings should be considered when diagnosing acute groin injuries.

Keywords: MRI; acute groin injuries; adductor; clinical examination; diagnosis; iliopsoas; injury mechanism; muscle strain; rectus femoris; ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / diagnosis
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Groin / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Leg Injuries / diagnosis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Physical Examination
  • Prospective Studies
  • Soccer / injuries
  • Sports
  • Thigh / injuries
  • Young Adult