Prevalence of MRI Shoulder Abnormalities in Asymptomatic Professional and Collegiate Ice Hockey Athletes

Brittney Hacken, Cayce Onks, Donald Flemming, Timothy Mosher, Matthew Silvis, Kevin Black, Dan Stuck, Aman Dhawan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: The literature demonstrates a high prevalence of asymptomatic knee and hip findings on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in athletes. Baseball pitchers are shown to have a high prevalence of asymptomatic shoulder MRI findings, but the incidence of asymptomatic shoulder MRI findings has not been systematically evaluated in nonthrowing contact athletes. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of shoulder abnormalities in asymptomatic professional and collegiate hockey players. We hypothesized that, similar to overhead throwing athletes, ice hockey players will have a high prevalence of asymptomatic MRI findings, including labral, acromioclavicular (AC), and rotator cuff pathology on MRI. Study Design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: A total of 25 asymptomatic collegiate and professional hockey players (50 shoulders) with no history of missed games or practice because of shoulder injury, pain, or dysfunction underwent bilateral shoulder noncontrast 3.0-T MRI. MRIs were read blinded by 2 board-certified radiologists at 2 separate time points, 3 months apart, to determine the prevalence of abnormalities of the joint fluid, bone marrow, rotator cuff tendon, biceps tendon, labrum, AC joint, and glenohumeral joint. Interrater and intrareader reliability was determined, and regression analysis was performed to identify the prevalence and relationship to stick-hand dominance. Results: Labral abnormalities were seen in 25% of the shoulders. AC joint abnormalities and rotator cuff findings were noted in 8% and 6% of shoulders, respectively. One shoulder was noted to have a biceps tendon abnormality, and 1 shoulder demonstrated glenohumeral joint chondral findings. Interrater reliability coefficients were 0.619 for labral abnormalities. Intrareader reliability kappa coefficients were 0.493 and 0.718 for both readers, respectively, for labral abnormalities. Regression analysis was performed and revealed that the overall shoulder pathology was more common in the nondominant stick hand (top stick hand) (coefficient –0.731; P =.021). Conclusion: Professional and collegiate ice hockey players had an overall prevalence of labral abnormalities in 25% of their shoulders, with findings more often found in the nondominant stick hand. Rotator cuff abnormalities were uncommon in ice hockey players. These findings differ significantly from published reports examining professional baseball players and other overhead sports athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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