Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research ®

A Publication of The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ®

Labral Injuries of the Hip in Rowers

Robert E. Boykin MD, Eric D. McFeely BA, Kathryn E. Ackerman MD, MPH, Yi-Meng Yen MD, PhD, Adam Nasreddine MA, Mininder S. Kocher MD, MPH



Injuries of the hip in the adolescent and young adult athlete are receiving more attention with advances in the understanding of femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), labral pathology, and hip arthroscopy. Labral tears have not been well characterized in rowers.


The purposes of this study were (1) to describe the clinical presentation of labral pathology in rowers; (2) to describe the MRI and radiographic findings of labral pathology in rowers; and (3) to determine the likelihood that a rower with labral injury, treated arthroscopically, will return to sport.


We conducted a review from August 2003 to August 2010 to identify all rowers with MRI-confirmed intraarticular pathology of the hip presenting to our institution. Baseline demographics, symptoms and physical findings, and location of the labral tear with associated pathology, management, and early followup were recorded. The review yielded a total of 21 hips (18 rowers, three with bilateral labral pathology) with a mean patient age of 18.5 years (range, 14–23 years). Most of the rowers (85%) were female and the series included prep school (44%) and collegiate rowers (56%). Eighteen of the 21 hips (85%) eventually underwent arthroscopic surgery at our institution.


A large majority of patients had isolated groin pain (71%) and physical findings consistent with impingement (81%). There was no single, dominant location for the labral tears on MRI. Among the 18 patients who had surgery, 10 (56%) returned to rowing, six (33%) never returned, and return data were not available for two (11%) at a mean of 8 months (range, 3–25 months) after surgery.


The repetitive motions of the hip required for rowing may be a factor leading to intraarticular labral injuries in the athletes. Underlying anatomic abnormalities of the hip such as FAI may predispose certain patients to these injuries. However, many patients treated arthroscopically did not return to sport at a mean of 8 months after surgery.

Level of Evidence

Level IV, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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