Treatment of anterior cruciate ligament injuries by major league soccer team physicians

Joseph Farber, Joshua D. Harris, Kaare Kolstad, Patrick C. McCulloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: The treatment and rehabilitation procedures of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in elite soccer players are controversial. Points of debate include surgical timing, technique, graft choice, rehabilitation, and return-to-sport criteria and timing. Purpose: To identify practice preferences among current Major League Soccer (MLS) team orthopaedic surgeons for ACL injuries. Study Design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: The survey was administered at the MLS team physician annual meeting in January 2013. At least 1 orthopaedic surgeon representative from each of the 19 clubs (16 from the United States, 3 from Canada) was in attendance. Teams with more than 1 affiliated orthopaedic surgeon were given an additional survey to be completed either at the meeting or returned via e-mail. Descriptive statistics, Wilcoxon Mann-Whitney (return-to-play parameters, running, and ball drills), and Fisher exact tests (graft selection, bracing, continuous passive motion) were applied to the various data sets from the survey responses. Results: A 100% survey participation rate was achieved (22 team orthopaedic surgeons representing 19 MLS teams). A singleincision, arthroscopically assisted, single-bundle reconstruction was the most common technique (91%). Surgeons were split regarding femoral tunnel drilling (50% transtibial, 46% accessory medial). Autograft bone–patellar tendon–bone (BPTB) was the most common preferred graft choice (68%). The biggest concerns about BPTB autograft and hamstring autograft were anterior knee pain (76%) and hamstring weakness (46%), respectively. Most surgeons did not recommend postoperative continuous passive motion (64%) or functional bracing (68%). Most surgeons permitted return to sport without restrictions at 6 to 8 months following surgery (82%). Surgeons who routinely used functional bracing after ACL surgery more frequently used hamstring autograft than those who used BPTB autograft (P = .04). Conclusion: This article successfully describes current management of ACL injuries among MLS team orthopaedic surgeons. The preference for single-bundle BPTB autograft is similar to published data in the National Football League and National Basketball Association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2014


  • ACL
  • Anterior cruciate ligament
  • Football
  • Major League Soccer
  • Soccer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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