Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction practice patterns by NFL and NCAA football team physicians

Brandon J. Erickson, Joshua D. Harris, Yale A. Fillingham, Rachel M. Frank, Charles A. Bush-Joseph, Bernard R. Bach, Brian J. Cole, Nikhil N. Verma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Purpose This study aimed to determine practice patterns for National Football League (NFL) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I football team orthopaedic surgeons regarding management of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in elite, young, and middle-aged recreational athletes. Methods Two hundred sixty-seven NFL and NCAA Division I team orthopaedic surgeons were surveyed through an online survey. A 9-question survey assessed surgeon experience, graft choice, femoral tunnel drilling access, number of graft bundles, and rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction. Results One hundred thirty-seven team orthopaedic surgeons (51%) responded (mean experience 16.75 ± 8.7 years). Surgeons performed 82 ± 50 ACL reconstructions in 2012. One hundred eighteen surgeons (86%) would use bone-patellar tendon-bone (BPTB) autografts to treat their starting running backs. Ninety (67%) surgeons drill the femoral tunnel through an accessory anteromedial portal (26% through a transtibial portal). Only 1 surgeon prefers a double-bundle to a single-bundle reconstruction. Seventy-seven (55.8%) surgeons recommend waiting at least 6 months before return to sport, whereas 17 (12.3%) wait at least 9 months. No surgeon recommends waiting 12 months or more before return to sport. Eighty-eight (64%) surgeons do not recommend a brace for their starting running backs during sport once they return to play. Conclusions BPTB is the most frequently used graft for ACL reconstruction by NFL and NCAA Division I team physicians in their elite-level running backs. Nearly all surgeons always use a single-bundle technique, and most do not recommend a brace on return to sport in running backs. Return to sport most commonly occurs at least 6 months postoperatively, with some surgeons requiring a normal examination and normal return-to-sport testing (single leg hop).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-738
Number of pages8
JournalArthroscopy - Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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