Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries of the Knee at the National Football League Combine: An Imaging and Epidemiology Study
In this study, posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries in players in the National Football League (NFL) Combine were analyzed to define epidemiology by player position, concurrent injury rate, and draft success with injury from 2009 – 2015. This injury is of particular interest due to the high risk of osteoarthritis development when combined with chondral or meniscal injury. In addition, PCL injuries are expected to rise in incidence as players avoid helmet-to-helmet contact by tackling low.
Clinical examinations were performed on players in the Combine. Imaging of players with previous or identified PCL injuries were reviewed to determine whether other areas of the knee were damaged. Of the 2285 players in the Combine in this time frame, 69 players (3%) had PCL injuries. Running backs and offensive linemen were the most common positions with this injury. In terms of drafting success, players with the highest-grade physical exam finding (grade III posterior drawer test) went undrafted. There was no difference in overall average draft pick for those with grade I and II posterior drawer tests. Imaging revealed that 32% of players also had chrondral injuries, 42% had medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury, and 12% had anterior cruciate (ACL) injury.