[Successive ruptures of patellar and Achilles tendons. Anabolic steroids in competitive sports]

Unfallchirurg. 2008 Jan;111(1):46-9. doi: 10.1007/s00113-007-1303-x.
[Article in German]


Derivatives of testosterone or of 19-nor-testosterone are used as anabolics for the purpose of improving performance although the effect of anabolics is known still to be under discussion. The use of anabolic steroids continues among competitive athletes despite increased controls and increasingly frequent dramatic incidents connected with them. Whereas metabolic dysfunction during anabolic use is well documented, ruptures of the large tendons are rarely reported. Within 18 months, a 29-year-old professional footballer needed surgery for rupture of the patellar tendon and of both Achilles tendons. Carefully directed questioning elicited confirmation that he had taken different anabolic steroids regularly for 3 years with the intention of improving his strength. After each operation anabolic steroids were taken again at a high dosage during early convalescence and training. Minimally invasive surgery and open suturing techniques led to complete union of the Achilles tendons in good time. Training and anabolic use (metenolon 300 mg per week) started early after suturing of the patellar tendon including bone tunnels culminated in histologically confirmed rerupture after 8 weeks. After a ligament reconstruction with a semitendinosus tendon graft with subsequent infection, the tendon and reserve traction apparatus were lost. Repeated warnings of impaired healing if anabolic use was continued had been given without success. In view of the high number of unrecorded cases in competitive and athletic sports, we can assume that the use of anabolic steroids is also of quantitative relevance in the operative treatment of tendon ruptures.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / drug effects
  • Achilles Tendon / injuries
  • Adult
  • Anabolic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anabolic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Doping in Sports*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Trauma / chemically induced
  • Multiple Trauma / drug therapy
  • Patellar Ligament / drug effects
  • Patellar Ligament / injuries
  • Rupture / chemically induced
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Steroids / administration & dosage*
  • Steroids / adverse effects*
  • Tendon Injuries / chemically induced*
  • Tendon Injuries / drug therapy*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Steroids