Purpose: To investigate the multiple signs of medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains, including the location and prevalence of associated bone bruises, and evaluate the accuracy of the criteria proposed for magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in grading these sprains.
Materials and methods: MR images were evaluated for signs of MCL injury in 76 patients with MCL sprains and 25 asymptomatic volunteers. These signs were then correlated with standards used to determine MCL injury at clinical evaluation. The grade of MCL injury as determined with MR imaging criteria was compared with clinical findings.
Results: All signs demonstrated little interobserver variability and were specific. The most sensitive signs were fascial edema and loss of demarcation from adjacent fat. This MR imaging grading system was inaccurate for classification of grade 3 MCL tears and was only questionably accurate for grades 1 and 2.
Conclusion: Multiple signs of MCL sprains on MR images have varying sensitivities. MR grading systems may not be accurate for classification of MCL injuries.