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Looking for 'Gymnast Wrist' on MRI

A new MRI protocol helps clinicians diagnose wrist overuse injury in young people.

Mary Bates, Contributor
Thursday, May 17, 2018


Gymnast wrist is an overuse injury that occurs in up to 40 percent of young gymnasts. It consists of irritation and inflammation of the growth plate at the end of the forearm bone where it connects to the hand to form the wrist. Injury to the growth plate can cause it to stop growing, sometimes resulting in permanent growth disturbances and damage.

Early diagnosis of gymnast wrist allows timely intervention and recovery, but it is challenging because some injuries may resemble normal growth and development on MRI.

In a new study, researchers developed and validated a protocol for MRI assessment of the wrist. They performed MRIs of the wrist on gymnasts with wrist pain, gymnasts without wrist pain, and nongymnasts. Three experienced radiologists established a checklist of possible wrist abnormalities, which five other radiologists used when evaluating the MRI scans. The researchers statistically determined the reliability and established a final evaluation protocol containing 12 items with fair to excellent reliability.

The MRI protocol provides a reliable wrist assessment and takes only 15 minutes to complete. The researchers say that such a standardized protocol can be used for initial injury assessment, treatment and recovery evaluation, and monitoring changes in the growth plate in children at risk of wrist injury. Use of the protocol in both research and clinical practice could also shed light on the differences between stress-induced and maturity-related changes in the wrist growth plate area.

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