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Am J Sports Med. 2018 Dec;46(14):3400-3406. doi: 10.1177/0363546518809982. Epub 2018 Nov 14.

Patellar Tendon-Lateral Trochlear Ridge Distance: A Novel Measurement of Patellofemoral Instability.

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School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Division of Orthopaedics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Division of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, New York, USA.



Abnormalities in the trochlea-patella-tibia relationship have been shown to be risk factors for recurrent patellofemoral instability, although no current measurements quantify patellar containment in the trochlea. Standard measurements, such as tibial tubercle-trochlear groove (TT-TG) distance, do not account for the containment of the patella by the trochlea. Our goal was to develop a measurement to assess how well the trochlea contained the extensor mechanism.


A novel measurement describing the amount of the patellar tendon lateral to the lateral trochlear ridge (PT-LTR) would be a reliable measurement and significantly greater among patients with patellofemoral instability.


Cohort study (diagnosis); Level of evidence, 2.


The authors analyzed radiology records from 2005 to 2014 for patients aged 5 to 18 years with and without patellofemoral dislocations who had knee magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Two blinded reviewers evaluated 215 MRI studies. Standard and novel morphology measurements were calculated for each knee and compared in a case-control design. Interobserver reliability of each measure was assessed by the intraclass correlation coefficient. Predictability for patellofemoral dislocation was calculated with 2-tailed independent-samples Student t tests. Discriminative capacity was calculated with receiver operating characteristic analyses and area under the curve (AUC). An optimal measurement cutoff with resultant sensitivity and specificity was calculated.


Standard measurements of TT-TG distance, tangential axial width of the patella (TAWP), and tangential axial trochlear width (TATW) had excellent agreement between raters; lateral femoral condyle length had good agreement; and the novel measurement-width of the tendon beyond the lateral femoral condyle (PT-LTR)-also had excellent agreement. These underwent predictability and discriminative capacity analyses. TT-TG, TAWP, TATW, and PT-LTR were significant predictors of patellofemoral instability. In receiver operating characteristic analysis, TAWP had an AUC of 0.65, below the 0.8 threshold. TATW had an AUC of 0.814 and, when <32.5 mm, was 76% sensitive and 77% specific for dislocations. TT-TG demonstrated an AUC of 0.806. TT-TG ≥13.5 mm was 76% sensitive and 76% specific for dislocations. PT-LTR demonstrated an AUC of 0.876 and, when ≥5.55 mm, was 73% sensitive and 89% specific for patellofemoral dislocation.


PT-LTR is reliable, predictable, and discriminative for patellofemoral dislocations. This measurement had sensitivity similar to that of TT-TG but with higher specificity.


MRI measurements; TT-TG; patellofemoral dislocation; pediatric knee dislocation


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