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Int Orthop. 2007 Apr;31(2):247-52. Epub 2006 Jun 17.

The knee skyline radiograph: its usefulness in the diagnosis of patello-femoral osteoarthritis.

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The James Cook University Hospital, Marton Road, Middlesbrough TS4 3BW, UK.


The aim of this study was to determine the usefulness of the skyline radiograph in the diagnosis of patellofemoral osteoarthritis. Additionally, we wanted to assess the usefulness of patello-femoral crepitus as a clinical sign of this condition. Seventy-seven patients scheduled to undergo knee surgery had standard antero-posterior, lateral and skyline X-rays of their affected knee. The presence of clinical patello-femoral crepitus was also documented preoperatively. At the operation, their patellofemoral joints were graded into two groups according to the presence or absence of osteoarthritis. The lateral and skyline view X-rays as well as patello-femoral crepitus were compared individually against the operative findings. The skyline view had a sensitivity of 79% and a specificity of 80%. The lateral view had a sensitivity of 82% and specificity of 65%. Patello-femoral crepitus as a sign had a sensitivity of 89% and a specificity of 82%. There was no statistically significant difference between the two radiological views in terms of sensitivity and specificity in the diagnosis of patellofemoral osteoarthritis. Hence, we cannot recommend the skyline view as a routine radiological investigation in all cases of suspected patellofemoral osteoarthritis.

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