Return to play and future ACL injury risk after ACL reconstruction in soccer athletes from the Multicenter Orthopaedic Outcomes Network (MOON) group

Am J Sports Med. 2012 Nov;40(11):2517-22. doi: 10.1177/0363546512459476. Epub 2012 Sep 21.


Background: There is limited information on outcomes and return to play (RTP) after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) in soccer athletes.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to (1) test the hypotheses that player sex, side of injury, and graft choice do not influence RTP and (2) define the risk for future ACL injury in soccer players after ACLR.

Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: Soccer players in a prospective cohort were contacted to determine RTP after ACLR. Information regarding if and when they returned to play, their current playing status, the primary reason they stopped playing soccer (if relevant), and incidence of subsequent ACL surgery was recorded.

Results: Initially, 72% of 100 soccer athletes (55 male, 45 female) with a mean age of 24.2 years at the time of ACLR returned to soccer. At average follow-up of 7.0 years, 36% were still playing, a significant decrease compared with initial RTP (P < .0001). Based on multivariate analysis, older athletes (P = .006) and females (P = .037) were less likely to return to play. Twelve soccer athletes had undergone further ACL surgery, including 9 on the contralateral knee and 3 on the ipsilateral knee. In a univariate analysis, females were more likely to have future ACL surgery (20% vs 5.5%, P = .03). Soccer athletes who underwent ACLR on their nondominant limb had a higher future rate of contralateral ACLR (16%) than soccer athletes who underwent ACLR on their dominant limb (3.5%) (P = .03).

Conclusion: Younger and male soccer players are more likely to return to play after ACL reconstruction. Return to soccer after ACLR declines over time. ACLR on the nondominant limb potentially places the dominant limb at risk for future ACL injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
  • Athletic Injuries / surgery*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function
  • Return to Work
  • Risk Factors
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Young Adult