Ballet Dancers doing splits in an MRI scanner [hip study]

Quite a number of professional ballet dancers suffer from medical conditions brought about by their requirement to perform very extreme leg movements. To accurately evaluate such problems physicians would, ideally, like to be able to carry out MRI scans of ballet dancers whilst performing the splits. [that’s the dancers, not the physicians]

And, impractical as it might seem, the photo below shows how a joint research team from the University Hospital of Geneva, and the University Hospital Balgrist, Zürich, Switzerland have found a way of doing just that.


Thirty professional ballet dancers were asked to maintain the splits position inside an especially large MRI machine (a 60cm bore, 1.5-T MAGNETOM Avanto system).

“While doing the splits, a sagittal water excitation 3D double-echo steady-state sequence and a transverse 3D fast gradient echo sequence (VIBE) were achieved.“

And subsequent evaluations of the scans enabled the following conclusions to be drawn.

“The prevalence of typical FAI [femoroacetabular impingement] of the cam or pincer type was low in this selected population of professional ballet dancers. The lesions’ distribution, mostly superior, could be explained by a ‘pincer-like’ mechanism of impingement with subluxation in relation to extreme movements performed by the dancers during their daily activities.”

See: ‘Extreme hip motion in professional ballet dancers: dynamic and morphological evaluation based on magnetic resonance imaging’
(in: Skeletal Radiology, May 2013, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 689-698)

Also see:

[1] Quantifying ballet dancers’ leg-lift angles

[2] Playing a cello inside an MRI scanner