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Keywords:

  • cortical bone;
  • bone geometry;
  • bone strength;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • sports

Summary

The aim of this study was to examine the association between different types of exercise loading and femoral neck cross-sectional geometry. Our data comprised proximal femur magnetic resonance (MR) images obtained from 91 female athletes and their 20 age-matched controls. The athletes were categorized according to typical training activity – high impact (high and triple jumping), odd impact (racket and soccer playing), high magnitude (power lifting), repetitive low impact (endurance running) and repetitive non-impact (swimming). Segmented MR images at two locations, narrowest cross-section of the femoral neck (narrowFN) and the cross-section at insertion of articular capsule (distalFN), were investigated to detect between group differences in shape, curvature and buckling ratio derived using image and signal analysis tools. The narrowFN results indicated that the high-impact group had weaker antero-superior (33% larger buckling ratio than controls) but stronger inferior weight-bearing region (32% smaller than controls), while the odd-impact group had stronger superior, posterior and anterior region (21% smaller buckling ratio than controls). The distalFN results indicated that the high-impact group had stronger inferior region (37% smaller buckling ratio), but the odd-impact group had stronger superior region (22% smaller buckling ratio) than the controls. Overall, the results point towards odd-impact exercise loading, with inherently varying directions of impact, associated with more robust cross-sectional geometry along the femoral neck. In conclusion, our one-dimensional polar treatment for geometrical traits and intuitive presentation of differences in trends between exercise groups and controls provides a basis for analysis with high angular accuracy.