Morphology and Anatomic Patellar Instability Risk Factors in First-Time Traumatic Lateral Patellar Dislocations

Marie Askenberger, Per Mats Janarv, Throstur Finnbogason, Elizabeth A. Arendt

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147 Scopus citations


Background: The incidence of primary lateral patellar dislocation (LPD) in children aged 9 to 14 years is 0.6 to 1.2 per 1000. Causation is assumed to be multifactorial, including anatomic variants of the patellofemoral (PF) joint that result in a higher risk of LPD. No publication has compared the morphology of the PF joint and anatomic patellar instability risk factors (APIFs) in a primary LPD population versus controls, defining children by skeletal maturity. Purpose: To characterize the PF morphology and APIFs (trochlear dysplasia, abnormal lateral patellar tilt, elevated tibial tubercle-trochlear groove [TT-TG] distance, patella alta) through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurements in skeletally immature children with and without a primary LPD and to identify (potential) distinctive differences between these 2 groups. Study Design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: A prospective series of 103 skeletally immature children aged 9 to 14 years with an MRI-confirmed primary LPD were matched with a control group of 69 children. The PF morphology and APIFs were assessed during a 2.5-year period with standardized MRI using sagittal and axial views. Results: In the LPD group, 79% had 2 to 4 APIFs compared with 7% in the control group. All major measurements of trochlear dysplasia were significantly different between the 2 groups. The mean central condylar height was significantly higher in the LPD group compared with the control group, resulting in a lower trochlear depth (2.3 vs 4.5 mm, respectively) and higher sulcus angle (156.7° vs 141.1°, respectively). The LPD group had significantly higher values of patellar height, Caton-Deschamps index (1.33 vs 1.15, respectively), lateral patellar tilt (21.1° vs 8.5°, respectively), and TT-TG distance (13.9 vs 9.8 mm, respectively) compared with the control group. The main divergent APIF was trochlear dysplasia (defined as trochlear depth <3 mm), seen in 74% of the LPD group compared with 4% of the control group. Elevated TT-TG distance as a single APIF was never present in the LPD group; patellar tilt was only seen in the LPD group. The most common APIF in the control group was patella alta (36%). Conclusion: There was a significant difference in mean values of all established APIFs between the children with a first-time LPD and the controls. Trochlear dysplasia was the main APIF, and together with lateral patellar tilt (≥20°), they had the strongest association with LPD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s).


  • children
  • knee
  • patellar dislocation
  • patellofemoral anatomy
  • pediatric sports medicine


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