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