Surgically Treated Pectoralis Major Tears Impact the Play and Performance of National Football League Athletes

Open AccessPublished:September 08, 2022DOI:
      Purpose: To evaluate the return-to-play rate and performance level changes in National Football League (NFL) athletes after a surgically treated pectoralis major muscle (PMM) tear.
      Methods: A descriptive epidemiologic study was conducted. All NFL players from 1933 to 2013 were reviewed for surgically treated PMM tears. Age at injury, height, weight, body mass index, date of injury, position played, draft selection, and total seasons played were recorded. Return to play was assessed for the entire cohort, as well as by position. Performance analysis before and after injury was also conducted for the entire cohort, as well as by position and draft selection. Data analysis was performed with the paired-samples t test, with P < .05 considered statistically significant.
      Results: Our review of 80 NFL seasons from 1933 to 2013 provided a total of 55 instances of PMM tears. All instances occurred between the time frame of 2004 and 2012. After exclusions, 24 instances unique to 24 NFL athletes were confirmed by 2 separate investigators and these athletes were included as our final study cohort. Of the 24 players identified to have a surgically repaired PMM tear, 20 (83%) returned to play. The mean return-to-play period was 302 ± 128 days. The mean difference in performance scores before versus after PMM injury was 171.33 and was statistically significant, with P = .0330.
      Conclusions: In this study, there was an 83% return-to-play rate after surgical repair of PMM tears. Although we found a statistically significant decrease in player performance after surgery, this difference was no longer seen after players were stratified by position type and draft selection.
      Level of Evidence: Level IV, therapeutic case series.
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