Sonography of injury of the ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow?initial experience
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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to describe the sonographic appearance of injuries of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the elbow. DESIGN AND PATIENTS: Eight non-professional male baseball pitchers, ages 13-35 years, with medial elbow pain and clinical suspicion of ulnar collateral ligament injury, were referred for imaging. All eight underwent sonography of the affected and contralateral asymptomatic elbow, and six also underwent MR imaging. Neither valgus stress nor power Doppler was used during the sonographic examinations. Time from onset of symptoms to imaging was 1.5 weeks to 6 months. Three patients had surgical confirmation of their injuries, with time from imaging to surgery of 2 days to 9 months. RESULTS: In four patients, the UCL was ruptured, manifest sonographically in three cases as discontinuity of the normally hyperechoic ligament with anechoic fluid in the gap and in one case as non-visualization of the ligament with heterogeneous echogenicity in the expected location of the ligament. Two adolescent patients had avulsions of the UCL from the medial epicondyle, with sonographic demonstration of the avulsed echogenic bony fragment in both cases. One patient had a mild sprain, manifest as mild thickening and decreased echogenicity of the ligament sonographically compared with the contralateral normal elbow, with mild surrounding hypoechoic edema. The eighth patient had a small partial tear of the deep surface of the distal aspect of the ligament, visualized as a hypoechoic focus between the deep surface of the ligament and its ulnar attachment. CONCLUSION: Tears of the ulnar collateral ligament are manifested sonographically as non-visualization of the ligament or alteration of the normal morphology.
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