Meniscectomy and Resultant Articular Cartilage Lesions of the Knee Among Prospective National Football League Players: An Imaging and Performance Analysis
Removal of the damaged area of a meniscal tear (often called a meniscectomy) is a common arthroscopic treatment option for those who want to address their pain and have a quick recovery, however, injury to the meniscus and removal of the damage meniscus results in a greater chance of that individual sustaining an injury to the cartilage of the knee and causing earlier onset osteoarthritis. Thus, this study examined players who entered the NFL combine with a history of a prior meniscectomy and graded the level of knee cartilage damage in order to correlate levels of cartilage damage to player performance outcomes. To do this, the authors collected player stats from 287 players including: Games missed in college, position played, and draft position and graded levels of cartilage damage on a knee MRI. The authors found that of the 322 players who entered the NFL combine from 2009 -2015, 247 of them had cartilage damage in the knee. The players with greater meniscal injury had higher degrees of cartilage damage in the knee, and when compared to players with no previous meniscal injuries, these players played and started in significantly less games. This research gives insight on how meniscal and cartilage injury can affect player performance.