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Flexor digitorum profundus avulsion injuries in Oztag players

To the Editor: Tag rugby, known in Australia as Oztag,1 is a popular low-contact version of rugby league in which an opponent is “tackled” by pulling a velcro tag off his or her shorts. The sport has over 40 000 participants in Australia1 and is perceived to pose a low risk of serious injury. However, hand injuries occur with some frequency2,3 and are often neglected. In particular, avulsion of the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) insertion from the base of the terminal phalanx — commonly known as rugger jersey finger — may masquerade as a simple “sprain”. Failure to make the correct diagnosis early can result in serious impairment of function of the affected finger.4 Diagnosis is based on history, an examination demonstrating loss of active flexion of the distal interphalangeal joint of the affected finger, and a radiograph to assess for avulsion fractures. Ultrasound scanning can assist diagnosis in difficult cases.

From a retrospective chart review, we found that eight patients with Oztag-related FDP avulsion injuries presented to our tertiary referral hand centre…