Epidemiology of imaging-detected tendon abnormalities in athletes participating in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics

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Abstract

Background

Tendon abnormalities are prevalent among both elite and non-elite athletes. Cross-sectional imaging modalities are used to confirm and evaluate the severity of such lesions.

Aim

To describe the demographics, prevalence, anatomical location and characteristics of tendon abnormalities in athletes who participated in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Methods

We recorded all sports injuries reported by the National Olympic Committee (NOC) medical teams and the Organizing Committee medical staff during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. Diagnostic imaging was performed through the official IOC clinic within the Olympic Village, using digital ultrasound machines and 3T and 1.5T MR scanners. Image interpretation was performed centrally by board-certified musculoskeletal radiologists with expertise in sports injuries.

Results

In total, 11 274 athletes (5089 women (45%), 6185 men (55%)) from 207 NOCs were included. NOC and Rio de Janeiro 2016 medical staff reported 1101 injuries. Central review of radiological images revealed 156 tendon abnormalities in 109 athletes (51.2% male, mean age: 26.8, range 18–39). The supraspinatus tendon was the most commonly involved tendon (31 cases, 19.9%), followed by the Achilles tendon (20 cases, 12.8%) and patellar and infraspinatus tendons (12 cases, 7.7%). Tendon abnormalities were most commonly seen in track and field athletes (54 abnormalities, 34.6%).

Conclusion

156 tendon abnormalities were reported, most commonly in track and field athletes, and involving mainly the shoulder tendons, as well as Achilles and patellar tendons.

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