Background: To investigate time to return to sport and rate of professional sport activity in a homogenous group of competitive soccer players 4 years after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Methods: Twenty-one male professional soccer players (mean age 22.9±5.4 years) underwent non-anatomical double-bundle autologous hamstring ACL reconstruction and followed the same rehabilitative protocol. Clinical evaluation was performed preoperatively and at 3, 6 and 12-month follow-up. Data regarding return to train and official match, sport activity, complications and revision surgeries were collected at 4-year follow-up.
Results: Laxity test (KT-2000) and total KOOS mean score resulted in a significant improvement from the preoperative status to the 12-month follow-up (p<0.0001). The KOOS mean value showed a significant progressive improvement from the preoperative status to 6-month follow-up (p=0.0010) as well, while values collected at 6 and 12-month follow-up were comparable (p=0.2349). Returned to official matches 186±53 days after surgery. After 12 months, 95% came back to the same activity level performed before injury. Four years after ACL reconstruction, 15 patients (71%) were still playing competitive soccer. One patient (5%) underwent ACL failure and subsequent revision.
Conclusions: The ACL reconstruction with the presented technique followed by patient-tailored rehabilitation, allowed 95% and 62% professional male soccer players to return to the same sport activity 1 year and 4 years after surgery respectively. However, 71% were still able to play competitive soccer at final follow-up. Clinical scores were restored after 6 months.
Level of evidence: IV, case series.
Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament; Arthroscopy; Double-bundle; Professional soccer players.
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