Open Access Open Badges Research

High-resolution axial MR imaging of tibial stress injuries

Takeo Mammoto*, Atsushi Hirano, Yohei Tomaru, Mamoru Kono, Yuta Tsukagoshi, Sinzo Onishi and Naotaka Mamizuka

Author Affiliations

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, Tsukuba University Hospital Mito Medical Center, Mito Kyodo General Hospital, 3-2-7, Miya-machi, Mito, Ibaraki, 310-0015, Japan

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Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology 2012, 4:16  doi:10.1186/1758-2555-4-16

Published: 10 May 2012



To evaluate the relative involvement of tibial stress injuries using high-resolution axial MR imaging and the correlation with MR and radiographic images.


A total of 33 patients with exercise-induced tibial pain were evaluated. All patients underwent radiograph and high-resolution axial MR imaging. Radiographs were taken at initial presentation and 4 weeks later. High-resolution MR axial images were obtained using a microscopy surface coil with 60 × 60 mm field of view on a 1.5T MR unit. All images were evaluated for abnormal signals of the periosteum, cortex and bone marrow.


Nineteen patients showed no periosteal reaction at initial and follow-up radiographs. MR imaging showed abnormal signals in the periosteal tissue and partially abnormal signals in the bone marrow. In 7 patients, periosteal reaction was not seen at initial radiograph, but was detected at follow-up radiograph. MR imaging showed abnormal signals in the periosteal tissue and entire bone marrow. Abnormal signals in the cortex were found in 6 patients. The remaining 7 showed periosteal reactions at initial radiograph. MR imaging showed abnormal signals in the periosteal tissue in 6 patients. Abnormal signals were seen in the partial and entire bone marrow in 4 and 3 patients, respectively.


Bone marrow abnormalities in high-resolution axial MR imaging were related to periosteal reactions at follow-up radiograph. Bone marrow abnormalities might predict later periosteal reactions, suggesting shin splints or stress fractures. High-resolution axial MR imaging is useful in early discrimination of tibial stress injuries.

Tibial stress injury; High resolution MR imaging; Stress fracture; Shin splint