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Diagnostic value of ultrasonography for clinical medial epicondylitis.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the ultrasonographic findings and to evaluate the value of ultrasonography as a diagnostic method for detecting clinical medial epicondylitis.

DESIGN: A prospective, single-blind study.

SETTING: An outpatient rehabilitation clinic in a tertiary university hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-one elbows from 18 patients with clinical medial epicondylitis and 25 elbows without medial epicondylitis were evaluated.

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The clinical diagnosis of medial epicondylitis was based on the patient's symptoms and clinical signs in a physical examination performed by a physiatrist. An experienced radiologist made the real-time ultrasonographic diagnosis based on the detection of at least one of the following abnormal findings: a focal hypoechoic or anechoic area, tendon nonvisualization, intratendinous calcifications, and cortical irregularity.

RESULTS: Ultrasonography revealed positive findings in 20 of 21 elbows with medial epicondylitis and was negative in 23 of 25 without medial epicondylitis. Ultrasonography showed sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value for clinical medial epicondylitis of 95.2%, 92%, 93.5%, 90.9%, and 95.8%, respectively. Tendinosis was observed in 15 elbows, and a partial-thickness tear, including 1 intrasubstance tear, was detected in 5 elbows. The most common ultrasonographic abnormality was a focal echogenic abnormality (15 hypoechoic, 5 anechoic) of the tendons.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that ultrasonography is informative and accurate for the detection of clinical medial epicondylitis. Therefore, ultrasonography should be considered as an initial imaging method for evaluating medial epicondylitis.

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