September 9, 2012

One In Four Volleyball Players Show Symptoms Of Severe Artery Injury

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

An estimated 25% of all professional volleyball players surveyed as part of a recent study demonstrated symptoms associated with a shoulder artery injury that could cause irreversible damage to a person's fingers, the Dutch authors of the study have reported.

Dr. Mario Maas, senior author of the study and a radiologist at the University of Amsterdam Academic Medical Center, and colleagues began their research after having six volleyball players "with ischemic digits and small microemboli in the digital arteries of the dominant hand" visit their hospital in a three-month span, they explain in the August 27, edition of the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

"These complaints were caused by an aneurysmatic dilation of the posterior circumflex humeral artery (PCHA) with distal occlusion and digital emboli in the isolateral limb," they wrote, adding that all of the patients were "elite male volleyball players active in the national top league."

Those patients inspired them to conduct a survey of nearly 100 players in order to see how many of them also had warning signs associated with the same injury, Reuters reporter Kerry Grens said. Those symptoms, according to Grens, include experiencing cold, blue-colored, or pail fingers during or immediately following a volleyball game, possibly caused by miniature blood clots coming from the damaged artery.

While no examination was performed, 27% of the 99 male players surveyed said that they had experienced those symptoms, Grens said. Twenty-seven of them said they had experienced cold fingers during play, while 18 of them said that their digits had turned blue and 20 others said their fingers had become pale. Four participants said that they often had blue or pale fingers, and eight said that their fingers regularly became cold.

"An unexpectedly high percentage of elite volleyball players reported symptoms that are associated with PCHAP with DE in the dominant hand," the authors wrote. "Because these athletes are considered potentially at risk for developing critical digital ischemia, further analysis of the presence of digital ischemia and PCHA injury is warranted."

"The group is doing follow-up research to see how well their survey actually identifies people with blood clots caused by a vascular problem," Grens added. "Their report urges doctors, especially those treating elite athletes, to actively screen for the signs of potential vascular injuries.”