[Magnetic resonance imaging analysis on the effect of marathon on the dynamic changes of morphological characteristics of patellar tendon in amateur marathon runners after half marathon]

Objective: To explore the dynamic changes of morphological characteristics of patellar tendon (PT) in amateur athletes after a half-marathon using magnetic resonance imaging. Methods: A total of 19 male amateur marathon runners with 38 knee joints,aged from 26 to 53(41.5±7.9) years, running for 3 to 18 years, with a weekly running volume of 30-90 km and a monthly running volume of 100-300 km were enrolled and underwent 1.5T MRI scan before the half-marathon, within 3 hours after running and 3 days after running. Ten healthy male volunteers with 20 knee joints, who had never participated in marathon and exercised (including but not limited to running) per week for less than 150 minutes were recruited as the control group, aged from 26 to 54 (39.4±9.1) years. Firstly, the PT signal was qualitatively assessed on fat-suppressed proton density-weighted imaging (fs-PDWI) sequence to observe the presence of patellar tendinitis. Then, the length, proximal, middle and distal cross-sectional area (CSA), and volume of PT were measured using the post-processing tool ITK-SNAP, and the data were standardized. The independent sample t-test was used for comparing. One-way repeated measures analysis of variance was used to analyze the morphological changes of PT before and after half-marathon running. Results: The incidence of asymptomatic patellar tendinitis in amateur marathon runners was 26.3% (5/19). No significant MR signal changes of PT were observed in all runners after running. The proximal CSA in runners group was larger than that in controls [(4.20±0.62) mm2/kg3/4 vs (3.63±0.57) mm2/kg3/4P<0.05], and there was no significant difference in length, medium and distal CSA and volume(all P>0.05). The length, proximal and distal CSA and volume of PT in runners group increased at 3 h after running [(47.35±3.22) mm vs (46.83±3.35) mm; (102.52±13.03) mm2 vs (98.98±13.14) mm2; (108.67±15.72) mm2 vs (100.27±14.37) mm2; (4 020.36±514.38) mm3 vs (3 826.57±499.23) mm3, all P<0.05]. There was no significant difference between before running and 3 days after running(all P>0.05). The middle CSA were not significantly different among different periods(all P>0.05). Conclusion: Marathon has effect on the normal PT morphology in male amateur marathon runners, showing an increase in proximal CSA. A half-marathon will cause reversible changes in PT length, regional CSA and volume.

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