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Magnetic resonance imaging of the posterior cruciate ligament. Clinical use to improve diagnostic accuracy.


This study was undertaken to determine the accuracy of magnetic resonance image scanning in detecting posterior cruciate ligament injury, and to determine those clinical situations where it can add the most useful information. A retrospective study was conducted on 201 patients who underwent surgery after magnetic resonance scanning of their knees. Two additional patients who did not have surgery but had clinical findings grossly positive for posterior cruciate ligament injury were included in the analysis of magnetic resonance imaging accuracy. In all, there were 190 intact and 13 torn posterior cruciate ligaments. In a review of the clinical findings in the 11 patients with surgically documented tears, we found that all 11 had positive magnetic resonance scans. In 4 of the 11, magnetic resonance imaging provided especially useful information regarding the status of the ligament. For the 190 normal ligaments, there were no false-positive scans; for the 13 torn ligaments, there were no false-negative scans. Therefore, specificity and sensitivity estimates for this group were both 100%. Magnetic resonance imaging proved to be an accurate modality for evaluating the integrity of the posterior cruciate ligament. If used in the proper setting, it can provide useful information for diagnosing posterior cruciate ligament injuries.

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