Normal clinical and ultrasound findings indicate a low risk to sustain jumper's knee patellar tendinopathy: a longitudinal study on Swedish elite junior volleyball players

Karl Gisslén, Csaba Gyulai, Peter Nordström, Håkan Alfredson
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2007, 41 (4): 253-8

BACKGROUND: Jumper's knee patellar tendinopathy is well known to be a common and difficult injury in volleyball. Knowledge about its aetiology and pathogenesis is sparse.

OBJECTIVE: To prospectively follow clinical status, tendon structure and vascularity in elite junior volleyball players.

METHODS: 22 volleyball players (44 patellar tendons) beginning their first grade at the Swedish National Centre for high school volleyball were continuously evaluated clinically and by ultrasonography (US) and power Doppler (PD) over the 3 school years.

RESULTS: At inclusion, there were 44 tendons being assessed. Jumper's knee was diagnosed clinically in eight patellar tendons (seven of eight had structural changes and vascularity on US+PD). There were 27 normal (clinical and US+PD) tendons. At 3 years, there were 36 tendons still being assessed. Four individuals (eight tendons) had been excluded. Jumper's knee had developed in 2 of 25 (2 were excluded) tendons that were normal (clinical and US+PD) at inclusion. Jumper's knee (clinical and US+PD) was also present in six tendons.

CONCLUSIONS: Normal clinical tests and ultrasound findings at the start indicated a low risk for these elite junior volleyball players to sustain jumper's knee during three school years with intensive training and playing.

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