Similar Prevalence of Acetabular Labral Tear in Professional Ballet Dancers and Sporting Participants

Susan Mayes, April Rose Ferris, Peter Smith, Andrew Garnham, Jill Cook

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To compare the prevalence of acetabular labral tear in male and female professional ballet dancers with age-matched and sex-matched sporting participants and to determine the relationship to clinical findings and cartilage defects. Design: Case-control study. Setting: Clinical and radiology practices. Participants: Forty-nine (98 hips) male and female professional ballet dancers (current and retired) with median age 30 years (range: 19-64 years) and 49 (98 hips) age-matched and sex-matched sporting participants. Independent Variables: Group (ballet or sports), sex, age, hip cartilage defects, history of hip pain, Hip and Groin Outcome Score, passive hip internal rotation (IR), and external rotation range of movement (ROM). Main Outcome Measures: Labral tear identified with 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Results: Labral tears were identified in 51% of all 196 hips. The prevalence did not differ significantly between the ballet and sporting participants (P 0.41) or between sexes (P 0.34). Labral tear was not significantly associated with clinical measures, such as pain and function scores or rotation ROM (P > 0.01 for all). Pain provocation test using IR at 90° of hip flexion had excellent specificity [96%, 95% confidence intervals (CIs), 0.77%-0.998%] but poor sensitivity (50%, 95% CI, 0.26%-0.74%) for identifying labral tear in participants reporting hip pain. Older age and cartilage defect presence were independently associated with an increased risk of labral tear (both P < 0.001). Conclusions: The prevalence of labral tear in male and female professional ballet dancers was similar to a sporting population. Labral tears were not associated with clinical findings but were related to cartilage defects, independent of aging. Clinical Relevance: Caution is required when interpreting MRI findings as labral tear may not be the source of the ballet dancer's symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • acetabular labrum
  • ballet
  • cartilage
  • hip
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • sport

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