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Common ski injury can be mistaken for cancer

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Alpine skiing is a popular winter sport in and around New Jersey. If you’ve skied a lot over the years, it’s possible that you could have a minor knee injury called a distal femoral cortical irregularity (DFCI). DFCIs are a common, non-serious condition among competitive skiers, but they are often mistaken for something much worse.

Knee problem mistaken for cancer

DFCIs are lesions that appear on a thigh bone near the knee joint. Repetitive stress on the area where tendons attach to bone cause the lesions. Skiers are susceptible to these minor injuries as are other athletes who place a lot of stress on their knee joints.

When radiologists examine MRI images of competitive athletes, they can mistake DFCIs for potentially malignant tumors. This can lead to a misdiagnosis of cancer, which could result in medical malpractice.

Swiss researchers warn radiologists about misdiagnosis

A team of researchers from Switzerland looked into the misdiagnosis of DFCI. In their study, the researchers examined 105 MRI images of competitive skiers’ knees. Researchers compared the skiers’ knees to 105 knee MRIs of non-skiers. What researchers found was that DFCI appeared in 58.1% of the skiers’ knees but only 26.7% of the non-skiers’ knees.

The Swiss researchers warned doctors to avoid using biopsies and other invasive medical procedures in patients who have DFCIs. While most DFCIs do not cause serious problems, the researchers said that a follow-up MRI might be necessary if a DFCI is causing pain.

The dangers of misdiagnosis

When a doctor diagnoses a patient with a disease that they do not actually have, unnecessary medical treatments could lead to problems. In the case of misdiagnosed cancer, a patient could risk suffering harmful side effects from unneeded chemotherapy. A patient who discovers that they have been injured by a misdiagnosis may be able to pursue financial compensation for their losses.