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Nonoperative treatment for proximal avulsion of the rectus femoris in professional American football.

BACKGROUND: Avulsion of the rectus femoris origin is a rare injury. The only previous report of this injury in professional American football has been limited to the kicking athlete.

PURPOSE: To describe the incidence and treatment of proximal rectus femoris avulsion in the National Football League (NFL).

STUDY DESIGN: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS: The NFL Injury Surveillance System (NFLISS) was reviewed for any proximal rectus femoris avulsion injuries from 1986 to 2006, including the type and mechanism of injury, player demographics, method of treatment, and time to return to play. The NFL team physicians and trainers were surveyed as to their experience with these injuries as well.

RESULTS: A total of 11 cases of proximal rectus femoris avulsion were identified starting in 1997. These injuries occurred in athletes in a variety of positions. All of these were treated nonoperatively, and the mean return to play was 69.2 days.

CONCLUSION: Rectus femoris avulsions are uncommon injuries in the NFL, occurring about once a year in the entire league (once magnetic resonance imaging facilitated correct diagnosis of these injuries). Conservative treatment of these injuries usually results in return to play after 6 to 12 weeks.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Proximal avulsions of the rectus femoris can be treated nonoperatively with a high degree of predictability for return to full, unrestricted participation in professional American football.

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