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Partial isolated rupture of the popliteus tendon in a professional soccer player: a case report

DOI: 10.1186/1758-2555-1-18

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The popliteus muscle functions as a dynamic internal rotator of the tibia. For this reason rupture of the popliteus muscle is usually associated with acute or chronic posterolateral instability of the knee. The isolated rupture of the popliteus tendon is a very rare injury and it has been rarely reported in the literature as a cause of knee hemarthrosis and functional disabilities. While most of the reported cases deal with tendon avulsions [1-6] or intra-substance ruptures [7,8], partial rupture has never been reported previously. The purpose of this article is to report one case of partial rupture of the popliteus tendon in a professional soccer player treated by debridment and to discuss the pathological findings of this lesion that could suggest an overuse disease of the tendon in a athlete.A 31-year-old professional first division goalkeeper injured his right knee hitting the ground with the lateral side of the knee after making a save during a game. No previous similar injuries were sustained by the player, while he wasn't able to identify the exact moment of the trauma. He referred immediately only minimal discomfort and no apparent effusion and he continued to play on. After 2 weeks, the discomfort progressed despite physiotherapy. An orthopaedic referral was made for persistent pain located at knee lateral aspect only during his sports activity. The first orthopaedic surgeon made a clinical diagnosis of a lateral meniscal tear and requested an MRI examination that was judged negative. At that time the patient came to our institution without any further treatment carried on. Clinical examination revealed absence of effusion and non-specific lateral joint-line tenderness with full extension and flexion. It was possible to elicit sharp pain palpating the popliteus tendon at femoral groove. The suspicion of other diseases, such as popliteus tendon snapping or popliteomeniscal fascicle tear were ruled out with the figure-four test and the Cabot test that were bo


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