MR imaging in chronic rupture of the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb

M Lohman, J Vasenius, A Kivisaari, L Kivisaari
Acta Radiologica 2001, 42 (1): 10-4

PURPOSE: MR imaging has been shown as the best radiologic method for verifying and classifying acute ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) ruptures of the thumb. Our aim was to analyse the usefulness of MR also in old ruptures and to establish the most useful sequences.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Ten patients with an old UCL rupture of the thumb were preoperatively imaged using 1.5 T MR. Three radiologists blinded to the findings separately analysed the MR images of these patients and of 10 age-and sex-matched voluntary controls. MR findings of the patients were compared with those of surgery.

RESULTS: The consensus diagnosis of an UCL rupture was accurate in all 10 patients. All controls were classified as having no UCL rupture. In 5 of the 7 patients with a surgically defined Stener or non-Stener lesion, the consensus diagnosis was the same as the operative diagnosis. Due to excessive scarring it was not possible to verify any Stener lesion intra-operatively in 3 patients. The most informative MR sequence was T2 TSE in the coronal plane, the second most informative was T1 SE with fat suppression in the coronal plane.

CONCLUSION: An old UCL rupture is well verified by MR but typing of the lesion as either a Stener or non-Stener type is not always possible.

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