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MRI Can Spot Foot Trouble in Basketball Players

Scan identifies early threat of season-ending injuries

THURSDAY, Dec. 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for early detection of potential stress fractures in the feet may help reduce the risk of season-ending injuries for college basketball players, says a Duke University study.

Radiologist Dr. Nancy Major used MRI to check the feet of 26 male college basketball players. She found that MRI detected some form of abnormality -- including such things as soft tissue changes in joint areas and abnormalities of the metatarsals -- in the feet of 36.5 percent of the players.

Before the MRI test, only one of the players exhibited any symptoms of foot problems.

The results suggest this kind of screening should be included as a standard part of all physical examinations for male and female basketball players and other athletes who put considerable stress on the bones of their feet, Major said.

MRI screening wouldn't be necessary for people who play such sports on a casual or limited basis, she said.

"When diagnostic work is conducted pre-season, at-risk players are more likely to be identified, receive treatment and ultimately play the entire year instead of losing eight to 12 weeks on the bench," Major said in a prepared statement.

"By looking at athletes individually with MRI, physicians can evaluate, institute appropriate therapy and document potential problems for further evaluation," she said.

Major presented her findings Dec. 1 at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting in Chicago.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about foot and ankle injuries.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Dec. 1, 2004
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