Return-to-play and performance after operative treatment of Achilles tendon rupture in elite male athletes: a scoping review

Br J Sports Med. 2022 May;56(9):515-520. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-104835. Epub 2022 Feb 10.


Objective: To examine the current evidence regarding return-to-play (RTP) and performance after Achilles tendon rupture in elite athletes treated with operative intervention.

Design: Scoping review.

Data sources: Published sources identified through a PubMed search of elite athletes, defined as professional or division one collegiate athletes in baseball, basketball, American football or soccer.

Methods: Our search yielded a total of 2402 studies, with 13 studies fulfilling the study criteria of reporting elite athletes with objective measures of their athletic performance. A total of 709 elite athletes were included from the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball (MLB), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football and professional soccer.

Results and discussion: Overall, 61%-100% of elite male athletes RTP after Achilles tendon rupture and operative repair. NBA players had inferior performance compared with their preoperative status as well as controls of non-injured players. Studies did not show significantly different performance after Achilles injury for MLB players. Professional soccer, NFL and NCAA football studies reported varying performance after injury.

Conclusions: Evidence suggests that sports with explosive plantarflexion demands, such as basketball, may be associated with a greater decrease in performance despite operative intervention after Achilles rupture.

Keywords: Achilles tendon; athletic injuries; athletic performance; basketball; football.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon* / injuries
  • Achilles Tendon* / surgery
  • Ankle Injuries*
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Injuries* / surgery
  • Basketball* / injuries
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Return to Sport
  • Soccer*
  • Tendon Injuries* / surgery