BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a “qualified yes” for participation by athletes with single kidneys in contact/collision sports. Despite this recommendation, most physicians continue to discourage participation in contact/collision sports for patients with single kidneys. A major concern is the lack of prospective data quantifying the incidence of sport-related kidney injury. The objective was to quantify the incidence of sport-related kidney injury among high school varsity athletes and compare it with sport-related injuries of other organ systems.

METHODS:

Data from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association High School Injury Surveillance Study, an observational cohort study collected during the 1995–1997 academic years, were used. Incidence rates for sport-specific injuries to select organs were computed and compared.

RESULTS:

Over 4.4 million athlete-exposures, defined as 1 athlete participating in 1 game or practice, and 23 666 injuries were reported. Eighteen kidney injuries, none of which were catastrophic or required surgery, were reported compared with 3450 knee, 2069 head/neck/spine, 1219 mild traumatic brain, 148 eye, and 17 testicle injuries. Student athletes incurring kidney injuries were most often playing football (12 injuries) or girls’ soccer (2 injuries). Sport-specific rates of kidney injury were significantly lower than sport-specific rates of mild traumatic brain, head/neck/spine, and knee injuries for all sports as well as rates of baseball- and basketball-specific eye injuries (P < .01).

CONCLUSIONS:

Kidney injuries occur significantly less often than other injuries during sport. These data do not support limiting sport participation by athletes with single kidneys.

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