Increased risk of second anterior cruciate ligament injury for female soccer players

Alexander Harrison King, Aaron John Krych, Paul L. Sousa, Michael J. Stuart, Bruce A. Levy, Diane L. Dahm

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Female athletes are an at-risk population for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, with rates of injury significantly higher than the general population. Few studies have reported on a second ACL injury for female athletes. The purpose of this study was to (1) report the rate of subsequent ACL injury (ACL graft rupture or contralateral ACL tear) in competitive female soccer players, (2) compare these rates to those of other female athletes of similar competitive level, and (3) determine risk factors for second ACL injury in this athletic population. Methods: The medical record at our institution was reviewed for patients treated with primary ACL reconstruction between 1998 and 2013. Female patients injured during a competitive athletic event were included for further review, and followed for an average of 7.1 years postoperatively (range 1.0 - 17.7 years). Chi-square analysis was used to compare rate of graft rupture and contralateral ACL injury based on pre-operative Tegner score, graft type, and injury side for soccer players vs. other female athletes. Wilcoxon rank-sum test was used to compare rate of subsequent ACL injury to patient age. Results: 337 patients met our inclusion/exclusion criteria (90 soccer players; 247 non-soccer playing athletes) with a mean age of 24.0 years. Of the 337 athletes, 6 were injured during professional competition, 43 were injured during collegiate athletics, 184 during high school play, and 136 during recreational athletics. No patient demographical differences were found at baseline between the soccer group and non-soccer group, including Tegner scores. Overall, 21 soccer players (23.3%) sustained a second ACL injury compared to 21 (8.5%) non-soccer athletes (P < 0.001). Soccer players had significantly more graft ruptures (10.0% vs. 2.0%, P = 0.003) and more contralateral ACL tears (13.3% vs. 6.5%, P = 0.04). Risk factors for ACL graft tear included young age (mean 16.0 vs 24.3 years; P < 0.0001) and higher Tegner Activity Level scores (mean 8.1 vs. 7.4, P = 0.049), but were not risk factors for contralateral ACL injury. Graft selection and injury side showed no statistical significance on graft rupture or contralateral injury. Conclusion: Female soccer players treated with ACL reconstruction had an increased rate of second ACL injury, including graft tear and contralateral ACL injury, compared to a similar group of non-soccer female athletes (23.3% vs. 8.5%, P < 0.001). In addition, young age and higher activity level were risk factors for graft rupture in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-2
Number of pages2
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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