Magnetic resonance imaging overestimates patellar height compared with radiographs

Juan Pablo Martinez-Cano, Riccardo Gomes Gobbi, Pedro Nogueira Giglio, Elizabeth Arendt, Giovanna Babikian Costa, Betina B. Hinckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the inter-observer and inter-method reliability for patellar height measurements between conventional radiographs (CR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using one or two slices. Methods: This was a reliability study, with 60 patients divided in two groups: 30 patients with patellar instability (patella group) and 30 patients with anterior cruciate ligament or meniscus injury (control group). CR and MRI were evaluated by two independent observers. Insall–Salvati index (IS) and Caton–Deschamps index (CD) were measured using three different methods: CR, one-slice MRI or two-slice MRI. Intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) were calculated for inter-observer reliability and inter-method reliability. Bland–Altman agreement was also calculated. Results: The inter-observer reliability was very good for the IS with ICCs of 0.93, 0.84 and 0.82, for the CR, one-slice MRI and two-slice MRI, respectively. Similarly, for the CD the ICCs were good, 0.76, 0.80 and 0.75 for the CR, one-slice MRI and two-slice MRI, respectively. No differences were found between the patella and the control group. The inter-method analysis results were: ICCs for IS (0.83, 0.86, 0.93) and CD (0.72, 0.82, 0.83), for the comparisons of CR/one-slice MR, CR/two-slice MRI and one-slice MRI/two-slice MRI, respectively. The Bland–Altman mean differences showed an 8% and a 7% increase on IS values with one-slice MRI and two-slice MRI compared to CR results, while the increase was of 9% and 1% in CD for the respective comparisons with CR. Conclusion: MRI can overestimate patellar height compared to CR, as much as an 8% increase in Insall–Salvati values when using one- or two-slice MRI measurements, and up to a 9% increase in Caton–Deschamps value when using the one-slice MRI method. It is recommended to use the CR as the preferred method when measuring patellar height. Level of evidence: III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3461-3469
Number of pages9
JournalKnee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s) under exclusive licence to European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy (ESSKA).


  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Patellar dislocation
  • Patellar height
  • Patellofemoral joint
  • X-rays

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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