Imaging of muscle injuries

Skeletal Radiol. 1996 Jan;25(1):3-11. doi: 10.1007/s002560050024.


Although skeletal muscle is the single largest tissue in the body, there is little written about it in the radiologic literature. Indirect muscle injuries, also called strains or tears, are common in athletics, and knowing the morphology and physiology of the muscle-tendon unit is the key to the understanding of these injuries. Eccentric muscle activation produces more tension within the muscle than when it is activated concentrically, making it more susceptible to tearing. Injuries involving the muscle belly tend to occur near the myotendinous junction. In adolescents, the weakest link in the muscle-tendon-bone complex is the apophysis. Traditionally, plain radiography has been the main diagnostic modality for evaluation of these injuries; however, with the advent of MRI it has become much easier to diagnose injuries primarily affecting the soft tissues. This article reviews the anatomy and physiology of the muscle-tendon unit as they relate to indirect muscle injuries. Examples of common muscle injuries are illustrated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Radiography
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / diagnosis
  • Tendon Injuries / diagnosis