Arthroscopic findings at the time of patellar realignment surgery in adolescents

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Articular cartilage injuries and loose bodies have been associated with patellar dislocations. At the time of patellar realignment surgery (PRS), direct intraarticular visualization of the structures of concern may be limited with the use of a small arthrotomy. Concomitant diagnostic arthroscopy can improve the identification of intraarticular abnormalities, both patellofemoral and nonpatellofemoral, because of the better field of view. PURPOSE: This report details the findings from knee arthroscopy performed concomitantly with PRS in adolescents. METHODS: All patients underwent knee arthroscopy and open PRS for patellar instability, performed by a single surgeon, during a 4-year period. Patient demographics, knee history, clinical examination, operative findings, and treatment details were collected on all patients. RESULTS: Thirty-eight patients (mean age, 14.9 years; 41 knees) were included in this analysis. Patellar osteochondral lesions were present in 30 knees (73%; mean size, 112 mm). Femoral lesions were documented in 11 knees (23%; mean size, 81 mm). Loose bodies were present in 6 knees (15%). In 8 patients (20%), an additional 11 nonpatellofemoral diagnoses were made at the time of arthroscopy: lateral tibiofemoral chondroses (n = 4), medial meniscal tear (n = 2), lateral meniscal tear (n = 2), discoid lateral meniscus (n = 1), partial anterior cruciate ligament tear (n = 1), and medial tibiofemoral chondrosis (n = 1). Because of these findings, 5 additional procedures were performed in 4 patients: partial lateral meniscectomy (n = 2), medial meniscal repair (n = 1), discoid meniscus saucerization (n = 1), and staged distal femoral valgus-correcting osteotomy (n = 1). CONCLUSIONS: By performing concomitant knee arthroscopy at the time of PRS, we were able to identify significant tibiofemoral abnormality in 4 patients, which would have been missed with direct inspection by a limited arthrotomy at the patellofemoral joint. In addition, precise evaluation of the patellofemoral joint permits customization of the PRS and aids in establishing appropriate patient expectations postoperatively. We advocate diagnostic knee arthroscopy at the time of PRS in adolescents to identify all intraarticular abnormalities and to optimize discussions with the patient and the caregivers on the long-term prognosis of the knee. SIGNIFICANCE: Arthroscopic inspection of the knee at the time of PRS permits identification of abnormality that is not routinely visual by using open arthrotomy. Twenty percent of patients had additional pathological findings; of these patients, 50% underwent an additional surgical procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-498
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Osteochondral fractures
  • Patellar dislocations
  • Patellar realignment surgery


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