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The prevalence of patellar tendinopathy in elite academy rugby: A clinical and imaging study

      Abstract

      Objectives

      Patellar tendinopathy (PT) is a challenging condition with variable outcomes. It is not commonly reported in rugby. This study was undertaken to evaluate the prevalence of PT in elite academy rugby.

      Design

      Cross-sectional study.

      Methods

      Members of the rugby academies in Ireland were evaluated using blinded, standardised clinical examination, self reported questionnaires and ultrasound. Anthropometrics were examined, body mass and fat% were measured by bio-impedance. The Cincinnati Sports Activity Scale, established activity levels. The VISA-P scale evaluated symptoms. Ultrasound examination established tendon thickness, echogenicity and homogeneity including focal areas of tendinopathy in both transverse and longitudinal planes. Studies were reviewed and graded by two musculoskeletal radiologists. Statistical analysis was performed using PASW 18 and CIA software. Significance was set at p < .05.

      Results

      Thirty individuals (36.1%) had US abnormalities identified with 38 abnormal tendons. The abnormalities seen were microcalculi (44.7%; N = 17), thickened tendons ± large areas of cystic degenerative change (26.3%) and macrocalculi or large hypoechoic areas (28.9%; N = 11). Eleven individuals (13.3%) fulfilled the clinical diagnosis of PT based on clinical examination. Combining both US and clinical the prevalence of PT in this cohort was 9.6% (N = 8). There was a statistically significant difference between the prevalence of patellar tendinopathy based upon US findings (p = .027) and the combination of both clinical examination and US (p = .044) in different training academies.

      Conclusions

      This work shows that PT is a relatively common injury in elite academy rugby players and that training practices may contribute to its development.

      Keywords

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