Background: Female basketball players are more likely to tear their anterior cruciate ligament than are their male counterparts. Many causes are postulated for the difference observed in the rate of anterior cruciate ligament tears between genders. However, little is known about the differences in tears within gender.
Hypothesis: The rate of anterior cruciate ligament tears is different in White European American female basketball players and non-White European American players.
Study design: Cohort study (Prevalence); Level of evidence, 2.
Methods: The authors investigated the differences in anterior cruciate ligament tears by risk exposure in women of different racial or ethnic backgrounds playing in the Women's National Basketball Association for the 1999 through 2003 seasons. Using the injury surveillance data from the Women's National Basketball Association, the authors compared anterior cruciate ligament injuries in White European American and non-White European American players to determine differences in the rate of anterior cruciate ligament tears between racial groups.
Results: The anterior cruciate ligament tear rate for White European American players was 0.45 per 1000 athletic exposures, whereas for non-White European American players (black or African American, Hispanic, and Asian players) the rate was 0.07. The odds ratio of anterior cruciate ligament tears in White European American versus non-White European American players was 6.55 (95% confidence interval, 1.35-31.73).
Conclusion: Our retrospective study shows that the anterior cruciate ligament tear rate for White European American players was 0.45 per 1000 athletic exposures, whereas tear rates in the Women's National Basketball Association vary by racial group, with White European American players having more than 6 times the anterior cruciate ligament tear rate of other ethnic groups combined. Further prospective studies of athletes are needed to validate this finding and shed light on possible reasons.