MRI features of ERSA (exercise-related signal abnormality) lesions in professional soccer players

James S. B. Kho, Rajesh Botchu, Alison Rushton, Steven L. James

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Abstract

Objective

This study aims to describe the prevalence, anatomy and morphology of ERSA (exercise-related signal abnormality) lesions, a previously undescribed pattern of muscle signal changes on MRI in professional soccer players with suspected acute thigh muscle injury.

Methods

A multicenter retrospective review was performed of 287 MRIs of professional soccer players referred for suspected acute thigh injury from August 2017 to February 2020. MR images were reviewed for muscle signal abnormalities corresponding to a peritendinous ovoid region or a subfascial ring of faint increased signal on fluid-sensitive MR images. Imaging features including anatomical site, morphology, and craniocaudal length were recorded. Concomitant acute muscle injury was graded in accordance with the British Athletics Muscle Injury Classification (BAMIC).

Results

ERSA lesions comprising a peritendinous ovoid region, a subfascial ring, or both, were identified in 40 muscles across 31/287 studies (10.8%). These lesions had a mean length of 15.8 cm and were predominantly located in the proximal or mid-portions of muscles. Affected muscles were rectus femoris (n = 22), adductor longus (n = 11), semitendinosus (n = 6) and biceps femoris (n = 1). 21/31 studies (67.7%) had a BAMIC grade 1–4 injury in a separate muscle, which were largely (81%) in a separate anatomic compartment or contralateral.

Conclusion

ERSA lesions were evident on MRI in 10.8% of our cohort of professional soccer players referred for suspected acute thigh muscle injury. Characteristic morphology and the longitudinal length (mean 15.8 cm) distinguish ERSA lesions from recognized patterns of acute muscle injury.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Early online date6 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Athletic injury
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Muscle injury
  • Soccer
  • Thigh

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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