Gamekeeper thumb: Diagnosis of ulnar collateral ligament injury using magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance arthrography and stress radiography
Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears may be nondisplaced or displaced relative to the adductor pollicis aponeurosis. Nondisplaced tears typically heal with immobilization whereas displaced tears require surgery. Nineteen patients with UCL injuries were evaluated using MR imaging (MRI), MR arthrography, and stress radiography (SR) to determine the efficacy of these techniques in differentiating nondisplaced from displaced UCL tears. Nineteen patients with UCL injuries were evaluated. MRI was utilized in 5 patients, and MR arthrography in 14, with 12 of these 14 undergoing SR. They were followed until resolution of symptoms; those without relief, and those with suspected displaced UCL tears were surgically explored. Surgery and imaging was correlated. Eight patients underwent surgical repair. SR was abnormal in six patients treated surgically, but was negative in four of six conservatively treated patients with MR findings of nondisplaced tears. All patients with MR or MR arthrographic findings interpreted as being normal or as having a nondisplaced tear improved after conservative treatment. Based on surgical findings and clinical follow-up, MR arthrography accurately diagnosed 13 of 14 UCL injuries, with one false-positive interpretation. SR is often falsely negative. MR imaging with or without intra-articular contrast injection proved to be accurate in a small series of patients with UCL injuries.