Number of imaging studies jumps 65% at Winter Olympics

March 17, 2010
Rebekah Moan

Imaging studies at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games increased 65% from when they were last held in Torino, Italy. At the Vancouver games 950 imaging studies were performed, according to Dr. Bruce Forster, a professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the Vancouver Organizing Committee imaging supervisor.

Imaging studies at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games increased 65% from when they were last held in Torino, Italy. At the Vancouver games 950 imaging studies were performed, according to Dr. Bruce Forster, a professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the Vancouver Organizing Committee imaging supervisor.

As previously reported, radiology played its greatest role to date at the most recent Winter Olympics, continuing to build on previous games. At every Olympics there is an increase in the amount of imaging, Forster said. Ninety CTs were performed in Vancouver, for instance, which is double the number of scans at the Beijing Summer Olympics.

“That’s quite extraordinary when you consider the Summer Olympics are three times the size of the Winter Olympics,” Forster said.

In all, around 7500 medical encounters occurred over the course of the games. Of the total, 34% were athletes, he said. The rest were facility workers and others who were within the athletes’ village boundaries, even temporarily, such as reporters covering the event.

Alpine skiing produced the most injuries, followed by snowboarding, cross country skiing, and bobsledding. The most commonly injured body parts were the knee, pelvis, and low back.

“Of course I can’t talk about individual cases, but there was the expected huge variety, ranging from minor tendon injuries to multisystem trauma,” he said.

Digital radiography was the most common exam, followed closely by MR, then ultrasound and CT, Forster said.

The consultancy role of the radiologists was a major factor in athlete injury management, he said.

“Often there would be three or four individuals, including the athlete, discussing the imaging findings with the radiologist,” he said.

The International Olympic Committee Medical Commission declared the Vancouver games the best ever, from a medical standpoint.