Good Interrater Reliability for Standardized MRI Assessment of Tendon Discontinuity and Tendon Retraction in Acute Proximal Full-Thickness Hamstring Tendon Injury

Anne D. van der Made*, Frank F. Smithuis, Constantinus F. Buckens, Johannes L. Tol, Willem R. Six, Kenny Lauf, Rolf W. Peters, Gino M. Kerkhoffs, Mario Maas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Proximal full-thickness free hamstring tendon injury (ie, tendon avulsion or rupture) is a severe injury. Treatment decision making relies on clinical factors and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) variables; it specifically relies on which tendons are injured as well as the extent of tendon retraction. According to a worldwide evaluation of current practice, discontinuity of both proximal tendons and retraction of >2 cm are used as surgical indications. However, both the diagnosis and the use of MRI variables in decision making may be fraught with uncertainty in clinical practice. A reliable standardized MRI assessment is required. Purpose: To propose an MRI assessment for acute proximal full-thickness free hamstring tendon injury and to evaluate its interater reliability. Study Design: Cohort study (diagnosis); Level of evidence, 2. Methods: We included 40 MRI scans of patients with acute (≤4 weeks of injury) proximal full-thickness free hamstring tendon injury. Three musculoskeletal radiologists assessed proximal full-thickness free hamstring tendon discontinuity using the novel “dropped ice cream sign” and tendon retraction (in mm). Quantification of tendon retraction (in mm) was performed using 2 different methods: (1) a direct (ie, shortest distance between the center of the hamstring origin and the tendon stump) method and (2) a combined craniocaudal/mediolateral measurement method. Absolute and relative interrater reliability were calculated. Results: We found an almost perfect interrater agreement (kappa = 0.87) for assessment of full-thickness tendon discontinuity using the dropped ice cream sign. Interrater agreement for the direct and craniocaudal retraction measurements was good for both the conjoint (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC], 0.88 and 0.83) and the semimembranosus tendons (ICC, 0.81 and 0.79). The mediolateral retraction measurement yielded only moderate to poor reliability for the conjoint (ICC, 0.53) and semimembranosus tendons (ICC, 0.41). Conclusion: The standardized MRI assessment to identify proximal hamstring tendon discontinuity and quantify tendon retraction is reliable. We recommend using the novel dropped ice cream sign and the direct retraction measurement in clinical practice and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2475-2481
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number9
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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