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Ultrasound evaluation of the ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow: Which method is most reproducible?

Shukla, Mehool; Keller, Robert; Marshall, Nathan; Ahmed, Hafeez; Scher, Courtney; Moutzouros, Vasilios Bill; van Holsbeeck, Marnix
INTRODUCTION/BACKGROUND:The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is an important medial stabilizer of the elbow, particularly in overhead-throwing athletes. However, there is no universally accepted method for evaluating UCL thickness with ultrasound (US). OBJECTIVE:To assess reproducibility of previously published methods, as well as a modified technique, for evaluating the UCL via US. We hypothesize that a modified technique would show greater reproducibility. MATERIAL AND METHODS/METHODS:Using US, the thickness of the UCL in 50 volunteers was measured by two musculoskeletal trained radiologists using two different measurement techniques. The techniques utilized were as described by Nazarian and Jacobson/Ward (JW). Technique measurements were evaluated using interclass correlation coefficients (ICC) to determine the reproducibility of each method. Twenty-eight of the subjects also underwent measurement via a modified JW technique, measured perpendicular to the ligament rather than the frame of imaging. This technique was also evaluated with ICC values. RESULTS:The ICC value for the Nazarian technique was 0.82 (very good) and 0.51 (moderate) for the JW technique. When using the modified JW technique, we found an ICC value of 0.84 (very good). Mean ligament thickness was greatest with the Nazarian technique, 6.41 mm, with the JW technique measuring 1.86 mm and the modified technique measuring 1.38 mm. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:US assessment of UCL thickness by all three measurement techniques are reproducible. The JW technique had less interobserver agreement when compared to the Nazarian method, whereas the modified JW technique had greater reproducibility compared to the JW technique and similar to the Nazarian technique.
PMID: 28424849
ISSN: 1432-2161
CID: 3826332