Asymptomatic hypoechoic regions on patellar tendon ultrasound: A 4-year clinical and ultrasound followup of 46 tendons

J L Cook, K M Khan, Z S Kiss, B D Coleman, L Griffiths
Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 2001, 11 (6): 321-7
Patellar tendon ultrasound appearance is commonly used in clinical practice to diagnose patellar tendinopathy and guide management. Using a longitudinal study design we examined whether or not the presence of a hypoechoic ultrasonographic lesion in an asymptomatic patellar tendon conferred a risk for developing jumper's knee compared with a tendon that was ultrasonographically normal. Ultrasonographic, symptomatic and anthropometric assessment was completed at baseline and followup. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed on four tendons that resolved ultrasonographically in the study period. Forty-six patellar tendons were followed over 47+/-11.8 months. Eighteen tendons were hypoechoic at baseline and 28 were ultrasonographically normal. Five tendons resolved ultrasonographically in the study period. Magnetic resonance imaging in four of these tendons was normal. Seven normal patellar tendons at baseline developed a hypoechoic area but only two became symptomatic. Analysis of ultrasonography at baseline and clinical outcome with Fisher's exact test shows there is no association between baseline ultrasound changes and symptoms at followup. In this study there is no statistically significant relationship between ultrasonographic patellar tendon abnormalities and clinical outcome in elite male athletes. Management of jumper's knee should not be solely based on ultrasonographic appearance; clinical assessment remains the cornerstone of appropriate management.

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