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Epidemiology of meniscal injuries in US high school athletes between 2007 and 2013



Knowledge of epidemiologic trends of meniscal injuries in young active populations is limited. Better awareness of injury patterns is a first step to lowering injury rates. Our hypothesis was that meniscal injuries in high school athletes would vary by gender, sport, and type of exposure.


During the 2007/2008 and 2012/2013 academic years, a large nationally disperse sample of US high schools reported athlete exposure and injury data for 22 sports by having certified athletic trainers complete an internet-based data collection tool.


One thousand and eighty-two meniscal injuries were reported during 21,088,365 athlete exposures for an overall injury rate of 5.1 per 100,000 athlete exposures. The overall rate of injury was higher in competition (11.9) than practice (2.7) (RR = 4.4; 95 % CI 3.9–5.0), and 12/19 sports showed significantly higher injury rates in competition compared to practice. Of all injuries, 68.0 % occurred in boys, yet among the gender-comparable sports of soccer, basketball, track and field, lacrosse, and baseball/softball injury rates were higher for girls than boys (5.5 and 2.5, respectively, RR = 2.2; 95 % CI 1.8–2.7). Contact injury represented the most common mechanism (55.9 %). Surgery was performed for the majority of injuries (63.8 %), and 54.0 % of athletes had associated intra-articular knee pathology.


Meniscal injury patterns among high school athletes vary by gender, sport, and type of exposure. Our study is clinically relevant because recognition of distinct differences in these injury patterns will help drive evidence-based, targeted injury prevention strategies and efforts.

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The content of this report was funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Grant Nos. R49/CE000674-01 and R49/CE001172-01) and the National Center for Research Resources (Award No. KL2 RR025754). The content of this report is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Center for Research Resources, the National Institutes of Health, or the American College of Sports Medicine. The authors also acknowledge the research funding contributions of the NFHS, NOCSAE, DonJoy Orthotics, and EyeBlack.

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Correspondence to David C. Flanigan.

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Mitchell, J., Graham, W., Best, T.M. et al. Epidemiology of meniscal injuries in US high school athletes between 2007 and 2013. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 24, 715–722 (2016).

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  • Meniscus
  • Mechanism of injury
  • High school athletes
  • Gender