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Open Access Case report

No damage of joint cartilage of the lower limbs in an ultra-endurance athlete – an MRI-study

Matthias Alexander Zingg1, Shila Pazahr2, Fabian Morsbach2, Andreas Gutzeit3, Walter Wiesner4, Bruno Lutz5, Beat Knechtle16*, Thomas Rosemann1, Peter Matthias Mundinger7 and Christoph Alexander Rüst1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of General Practice and for Health Services Research, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

2 University Hospital Zürich, Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Zurich, Switzerland

3 Kantonsspital Winterthur, Institute of Radiology, Zurich, Switzerland

4 Radiologie Nordost, St. Gallen, Switzerland

5 RODIAG, St. Gallen, Switzerland

6 Gesundheitszentrum St. Gallen, Vadianstrasse 26, St. Gallen 9001, Switzerland

7 Hessingpark-Clinic GmbH, Institute of Radiology, Augsburg, Germany

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:343  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-343

Published: 5 December 2013



Osteoarthritis is an increasing burden in an ageing population. Sports, especially when leading to an overstress of joints, is under suspicion to provoke or at least accelerate the genesis of osteoarthritis. We present the radiologic findings of a 49-years old ultra-endurance athlete with 35 years of training and competing, whose joints of the lower limbs were examined using three different types of magnetic resonance imaging, including a microscopic magnetic resonance imaging coil. To date no case report exists where an ultra-endurance athlete was examined such detailed regarding overuse-injuries of his joints.

Case presentation

A 49 years old, white, male ultra-endurance athlete reporting no pain during training and racing and with no significant injuries of the lower limbs in his medical history was investigated regarding signs of chronic damage or overuse injuries of the joints of his lower limbs.


Despite the age of nearly 50 years and a training history of over 35 years, the athlete showed no signs of chronic damage or overuse injuries in the joints of his lower limbs. This leads to the conclusion that extensive sports and training does not compulsory lead to damages of the musculoskeletal system. This is a very important finding for all endurance-athletes as well as for their physicians.

Magnetic resonance imaging; Microscopic magnetic resonance imaging; Over-use injuries; Extreme-endurance; Over-stress; Joint-injuries