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MRI For Diagnosing Torn Knees

MRI as a promising alternative for assessing knee ligament repairs.

Mary Bates, Contributor
Tuesday, May 8, 2018


Currently, the success of repair surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament, known as the ACL, is partly assessed by a combination of diagnostic modalities that are time-consuming, expensive, and largely subjective, and often lack necessary detail. These include 3-D computed tomography, which has been the gold standard for visualizing bone tunnel placement. However this 3-D CT cannot show soft tissue and it exposes the patient to ionizing radiation.

In a recent study, researchers evaluated a new high-resolution MRI protocol for assessment of bone tunnel placement and graft orientation in ACL repair surgery. They performed both MRI and 3-D CT scans of the injured knees of patients with a failed ACL repair surgery who were undergoing surgery again.

The researchers found no significant differences between high-resolution MRI and 3-D CT versus the reference landmarks, thus validating MRI as an accurate alternative to 3-D CT  for standardized assessment of ACL repair surgeries. Also, unlike 3-D CT, the MRI protocol imparts no ionizing radiation and allows comprehensive whole joint assessment of the knee.

Their findings suggest that MRI could be used as an objective way to evaluate the location of ACL bone tunnels and graft orientation. The researchers recommend MRI, in place of 3-D CT, to become the clinical standard for assessment of ACL repairs and planning revision surgeries.

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