September 2015

MRI after hamstring injury does not help predict timing of return to sport

In the moment: Sports medicine

By P.K. Daniel

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has no added value for predicting how soon athletes can return to sport after acute hamstring injury compared with predictions based only on patient history and clinical examination, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by researchers from New Zealand, Norway, the Netherlands, and Qatar, and epublished in August by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, prospectively assessed 180 adult male athletes with acute onset posterior thigh pain within five days of injury. All athletes underwent standard patient history, clinical examination, and MRI. The athletes were followed for one year to determine the time required for them to return to full sports activity, either in training or match play.

A multiple regression model including only baseline patient history and clinical exams explained 29% of the variance in time to return to sports. A second model that included MRI scoring explained 32% of the variance—a difference that was not statistically significant.

The study findings provide no rationale for acquiring a routine MRI after acute hamstring injury, the study authors concluded.


Wangensteen A, Almusa E, Boukarroum S, et al. MRI does not add value over and above patient history and clinical examination in predicting time to return to sport after acute hamstring injuries: a prospective cohort of 180 male athletes. Br J Sports Med 2015 Aug 24. [Epub ahead of print]

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