How does patellar tendon advancement alter the knee extensor mechanism in children treated for crouch gait?

Moria F. Bittmann, Rachel L. Lenhart, Michael H. Schwartz, Tom F. Novacheck, Scott Hetzel, Darryl G. Thelen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: The patellar tendon advancement (PTA) procedure, often coupled with a distal femoral extension osteotomy (DFEO), is increasingly used to treat persistent crouch gait. In this study, we investigated relationships between patella position, knee flexion, and the patellar tendon moment arm in children treated with the DFEO and PTA procedures. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed pre- and post-operative radiographs and gait metrics from 63 knees that underwent DFEO and PTA procedures at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. A computational musculoskeletal model of the knee was used to simulate the PTA procedure and predict the effects on the patellar tendon moment arm. Results: Approximately 80% of the knees exhibited patella alta prior to surgery. Post-operatively, 86% of the knees exhibited patella baja. The surgically altered patella position produced a 13% increase in the patellar tendon moment arm in extended knee postures, which agreed well with model predictions. However, the computational model also suggests that baja may compromise patellar tendon moment arms in flexed knee postures. Crouch gait was significantly reduced postoperatively, with a 27 ± 18° reduction in average knee flexion in stance. There was considerable inter-subject variability in outcomes with nine knees not exhibiting a meaningful enhancement of knee extension (<15° change). The subjects who improved were significantly younger and exhibited greater enhancement of the patellar tendon moment arm after surgery. Conclusions: This study shows that the PTA procedure enhances the lever arm of the knee extensor mechanism, and this factor may be important in resolving crouch gait.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-254
Number of pages7
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Knee extensor lag
  • Moment arm
  • Patella alta
  • Quadriceps insufficiency
  • Tibiofemoral joint


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