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Anterior cruciate ligament tear: indirect signs at MR imaging.



To establish the sensitivity and specificity of indirect signs at magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.

Materials and methods

MR images of the knees of 89 consecutive patients (54 with torn and 35 with normal ACLs) were reviewed.


The indirect signs were as follows (first percentage is sensitivity; the second, specificity): angle between lateral tibial plateau and ACL less than 45 degrees (90%, 97%); angle between Blumenstaat line and ACL more than 15 degrees (89%, 100%); bone contusions in lateral compartment (54%, 100%); position of posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) line (52%, 91%); PCL angle less than 107 degrees (52%, 94%); PCL bowing ratio more than 0.39 (34%, 100%); posterior displacement of lateral meniscus more than 3.5 mm (44%, 94%); anterior displacement of tibia more than 7 mm (41%, 91%); and lateral femoral sulcus deeper than 1.5 mm (19%, 100%).


Because the specificity is high, the presence of indirect signs corroborates the diagnosis of ACL tear. Because the sensitivity is low, the absence of these signs does not exclude the diagnosis of ACL tear.

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