MR arthrography of elbow: evaluation of the ulnar collateral ligament of elbow

Skeletal Radiol. 1996 Oct;25(7):629-34. doi: 10.1007/s002560050149.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury of the elbow in throwing athletes by MRI and MR arthrography.

Design: Ten elbows of throwing athletes were examined on both plain MRI and MR saline arthrography and the injuries subsequently surgically proven. Spin-echo (SE) T1-weighted and fast SE T2-weighted coronal images were obtained.

Results: The UCL was unclear in all ten cases on T1-weighted MRI. In five cases an avulsion fracture was also found on T1-weighted MRI. On T2-weighted MRI, abnormal high-intensity areas were identified in or around the UCL. On T2-weighted MR arthrography images, extracapsular high-intensity areas, which represent extracapsular leakage, were found in four of five cases with avulsion fracture. At surgery, all these four cases showed avulsion fractures with instability; the other case had a fracture but it was stable and adherent to the humerus. On T2-weighted MR arthrography images, an extracapsular high-intensity area was found in one of the five cases without avulsion fracture. At surgery this patient had a complete tear of the UCL itself.

Conclusion: MR arthrography provided additional information for evaluating the degree of UCL injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Baseball / injuries
  • Collateral Ligaments / injuries*
  • Collateral Ligaments / pathology
  • Elbow Injuries*
  • Elbow Joint / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male