Medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction reduces radiographic measures of patella alta in adults

Jarret M. Woodmass, Nick R. Johnson, Robert A. Cates, Aaron J. Krych, Michael J. Stuart, Diane L. Dahm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Patellar height has long been considered a risk factor for patellofemoral instability. However, recent pediatric literature demonstrated a reduction in patellar height measurements following medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction. Purpose: To assess the mean change in patellar height and the percentage of skeletally mature patients with patellar height ratios reduced to within-normal limits following MPFL reconstruction. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: Adult patients undergoing primary MPFL reconstruction for recurrent lateral patellar instability between 2005 and 2013 were identified. Pre- and postoperative (within 1 year of surgery) lateral knee radiographs were assessed for patellar height indices, including Caton-Deschamps, Blackburne-Peel, and Insall-Salvati ratios. The change in patellar height and the number of patients reduced from abnormal to normal patellar height ratios following MPFL reconstruction were assessed. Results: Overall, 32 adult patients were included in the study, with a mean age of 25.7 years (range, 18-55 years). There were 21 women (66%) and 11 men (34%). Insall-Salvati, Blackburne-Peel, and Caton-Deschamps ratios all demonstrated significant reductions in patellar height between pre- and postoperative lateral knee radiographs (P <.001). All 3 indices showed a reduction in the number of patients meeting the criteria for patella alta following MPFL reconstruction. A total of 64% of patients had an abnormal preoperative Caton-Deschamps ratio reduced to within normal limits postoperatively. Conclusion: MPFL reconstruction provides a consistent reduction in patellar height measurements. The Caton-Deschamps ratio was reduced to the reference range following MPFL reconstruction in 64% of patients with preoperative patella alta. Surgeons treating patellofemoral instability should expect a reduction in patellar height after ligament reconstruction, which may affect the need for more invasive distalization procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2325967117751659
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • MPFL reconstruction
  • Patellar height
  • Patellar instability
  • Patellofemoral arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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