How to Read an MRI of a MCL Injury

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Complex knee surgeon, Robert LaPrade MD, PhD. breaks down how to read a MRI of an MCL injury. This patient had a skiing injury on the medial side of the knee.

To begin, the coronal image is assessed. In this type of image the normal structures will be dark and the torn structures will be light. A lot of the white indicates a majority of the swelling on the medial side of the knee.

We then move to the sagittal images. As you move more midline you can begin to see more swelling form the injury. We can see the ACL, which in this case is still intact. We also see a complete PCL tear between the tibial attachment site and the femoral attachment site. You can see the that menisci are still intact.

The last image that we will use is the axial image. One of the first things we see where the MCL tibial attachment would be and all of the edema and swelling surrounding that area. We see a hint of the MCL attachment site still attached on the femur, but it has otherwise been completely disrupted.