Point-of-Care Ultrasound Diagnosis of Proximal Hamstring Rupture

Published:December 18, 2017DOI:



      Acute proximal hamstring ruptures can be a diagnostic challenge in the emergency department. The revealing sign of large posterior thigh ecchymosis is typically not yet present; the physical examination is limited due to pain, radiographs can be unremarkable, and definitive testing with magnetic resonance imaging is not practical. These avulsions are often misdiagnosed as hamstring strains and treated conservatively. The diagnosis is made after failed treatment, often months after the injury. Surgical repair at that time can be technically challenging and higher risk due to tendon retraction and adhesion of the tendon stump to the sciatic nerve.

      Case Reports

      The first case illustrates an example of how delay in diagnosis can occur in both emergency medicine and outpatient primary care settings. It also shows complications and morbidity potential for patients who warrant and do not receive timely surgical repair. The second case illustrates physical examination findings obtainable during the acute setting, and the use of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) in facilitating an expedited diagnosis and treatment plan.

      Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?

      Timely diagnosis of hamstring rupture is paramount to optimize patient outcomes for this serious injury. The best results are obtained with surgical repair within 3–6 weeks of injury. POCUS evaluation can aid significantly in the timely diagnosis of this injury. If the POCUS examination raises clinical concern for a proximal hamstring rupture, this may allow for earlier diagnosis and definitive treatment of proximal hamstring rupture.


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