Senior Military Rank Is Associated With Higher Rates of Return to Running and Unrestricted Activity Among Military Servicemembers After Surgical Repair of Patellar Tendon Rupture at 1-Year Follow-up

Open AccessPublished:October 31, 2022DOI:


      To evaluate 1-year outcomes in active-duty servicemembers who underwent patellar tendon rupture repair and to identify baseline variables associated with return to activity.


      We performed a retrospective review of all active-duty servicemembers undergoing primary patellar tendon rupture repair between 2009 and 2014. All patients had a minimum 12-month follow-up. Demographic variables were recorded, as well as ability to return to impact activities and remain on active-duty status. Rates of recurrent rupture and revision surgery were identified. Univariate analysis was performed to assess relations between outcomes and baseline variables.


      A total of 123 patients met the inclusion criteria (average age, 33.5 ± 6.6 years; 99% male patients) with a mean follow-up period of 4.3 ± 2.2 years. Whereas 67.4% of patients returned to running at an average of 8.3 months from index surgery, only 42.4% of patients resumed unrestricted occupational function. Higher rates of return to running were observed among patients with senior military rank (P = .046). Senior military rank was also associated with a higher rate of return to unrestricted active-duty status (P = .006). Logistic regression analysis showed an association between postoperative pain (odds ratio [OR], 0.684; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.56-0.84; P < .001) and return to running, between postoperative pain (OR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.60-0.98; P = .033) and return to active duty, and between rank (OR, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.04-4.07; P = .037) and return to active duty. Patients who sustained injuries during deployment had a higher rate of recurrent rupture (26.1% vs 9.3%, P = .028).


      At 1-year follow-up, approximately two-thirds of military servicemembers undergoing primary patellar tendon repair had returned to running after surgery, whereas fewer than one-half returned to full military duty. Younger age and more senior military rank were associated with higher rates of return to running. Additionally, servicemembers of higher rank, particularly officers, had statistically higher rates of return to unrestricted activity.

      Level of Evidence

      Level IV, therapeutic case series.
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