Type of Knee Surgery Makes Difference in Football Career

Meniscus repair may cut playing time more than ACL reconstruction, findings show

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SATURDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Complex anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction of a knee doesn't appear to shorten the career of a professional football player, but a simpler meniscus repair might, new research has found.

However, having both surgeries could shorten a pro's career by an average of nearly two years and 32 games, according to the report that was to be presented Saturday at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine annual meeting, in Keystone, Colo.

"ACL reconstruction is a reliable surgical technique that enables professional football players to have similar-length careers as their counterparts without ACL injuries," said study author Dr. Robert H. Brophy, the assistant team physician for the National Football League's St. Louis Rams.

"Although meniscectomy has a shorter recovery time than ACL reconstruction, these surgeries appear to lead to a significantly shorter career with fewer games played in the long term," he stated in a news release from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

The study, based on a database containing the injury history and career statistics of NFL players from 1987 to 2000, found that those who had a meniscectomy had their career's cut by an average one and a half years and 23 games.

"With further research, we will be able to better understand how these injuries and surgeries impact an athlete's career and what can be done to improve long-term outcomes," said Brophy, who is also assistant professor in the department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about ACL reconstruction.

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