Sport-specific injury pattern recorded during anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Am J Sports Med. 2013 Dec;41(12):2814-8. doi: 10.1177/0363546513501791. Epub 2013 Sep 4.


Background: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are more commonly seen with certain cutting and pivoting sports. However, injury patterns associated with these sports have not been well described.

Purpose: (1) To describe the patient demographics and injury pattern at the time of ACL reconstruction (ACLR) by activities that lead to ACL injuries and (2) to estimate the association of activities at the time of injury with the odds of isolated ACL injuries as well as with meniscus, cartilage, and multiligament injuries diagnosed at the time of ACLR.

Study design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: This study combined 2 ACLR registry cohorts, from Norway and the United States, from 2004 to 2011. A cohort of 10,958 primary ACLRs was included. The most prevalent sports activities at the time of injury were the following: soccer, skiing, American football, basketball, and team handball. The end points were the concurrent injury patterns at the time of ACLR: isolated ACL, meniscus, cartilage, and multiligament injuries.

Results: All sports were compared with the most prevalent injury mechanism: soccer. Skiing injuries were 1.13 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01-1.27) times more likely to result in isolated ACL tears, 2.05 (95% CI, 1.01-4.16) times more likely to result in posterior cruciate ligament tears, 1.94 (95% CI, 1.51-2.49) times more likely to result in medial collateral ligament (MCL) tears, and 1.73 (95% CI, 1.38-2.17) times more likely to result in multiligament injuries. Athletes playing American football were 2.72 (95% CI, 1.32-5.62) times more likely to have MCL tears. Those injured playing basketball were 1.28 (95% CI, 1.06-1.54) times more likely to have lateral meniscus tears, 1.23 (95% CI, 1.01-1.51) times more likely to have cartilage damage, and 1.38 (95% CI, 1.11-1.72) times more likely to have meniscus and cartilage injuries. Athletes injured playing team handball were less likely to have MCL tears (odds ratio [OR], 0.68; 95% CI, 0.46-0.99) and more likely to have lateral meniscus injuries (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.10-1.48).

Conclusion: Injury patterns were associated with certain sports. Compared with soccer, American football has a higher likelihood of resulting in multiligament injuries, whereas basketball has a higher likelihood of resulting in cartilage and lateral meniscus injuries. Injury patterns seen at the time of surgery may reflect the forces applied to the knee by the specific sports performed.

Keywords: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL); articular cartilage; epidemiology; knee; ligaments; meniscus; registry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction*
  • Athletic Injuries / surgery*
  • Basketball / injuries
  • Cartilage / injuries
  • Collateral Ligaments / surgery
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Football / injuries
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / surgery*
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Male
  • Norway
  • Skiing / injuries
  • Soccer / injuries
  • Tibial Meniscus Injuries
  • United States
  • Young Adult