Medial Patellofemoral Ligament Reconstruction Using Allografts in Skeletally Immature Patients

Martin Husen, Todd A. Milbrandt, Veeraj Shah, Aaron J. Krych, Michael J. Stuart, Daniel B.F. Saris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patellar instability has the highest incidence in adolescents aged between 14 and 18 years. The unique relationship between the medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) and the distal femoral physis in skeletally immature patients warrants precisely positioned MPFL graft insertion. A paucity of data are available evaluating the results of MPFL reconstruction using allograft tendon before skeletal maturity. Purposes: (1) To assess the results of MPFL reconstruction using allograft tendon in skeletally immature patients by analyzing redislocation and reoperation rates, radiological outcomes, and patient-reported outcomes and (2) to determine whether epidemiological, intraoperative, or radiographic factors influence recurrent instability and clinical outcomes. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: Prospectively collected data were retrospectively analyzed for 69 skeletally immature patients who experienced a first-time or recurrent lateral patellar dislocation and were treated with anatomic MPFL reconstruction. Inclusion criteria were MPFL reconstruction using allograft and the availability of preoperative magnetic resonance imaging scans in the presence of open or partially open physes. Patients with <2 years of follow-up and patients with previous surgeries on the same knee were excluded from the study. Preoperative radiographic imaging was reviewed and analyzed. Trochlear dysplasia, tibial tubercle–trochlear groove distance, and patellar height were evaluated. Descriptive data, concomitant injuries, surgical procedure details, complications, and postoperative history were assessed via review of medical records and patient charts. Validated patient-reported and surgeon-measured outcomes were collected pre- and postoperatively, including Kujala score, Lysholm score, and Tegner activity score. Return-to-sports rate was assessed. The influence of epidemiological, intraoperative, and radiographic parameters on the redislocation rates and clinical outcomes was assessed using a multiple linear regression model. Results: A total of 79 physeal-sparing MPFL reconstructions (69 patients) met the inclusion criteria. The mean age of the patient cohort was 14.7 ± 1.8 years (range, 8.5-16.9 years). Within the mean follow-up time of 37.9 ± 12.1 months (range, 24-85 months after surgery, there were 12 patients with clinical failures resulting in reoperation. Eleven patients experienced a redislocation of the patella, and 1 patient sustained a transverse noncontact patellar fracture 6 months after index surgery that required operative fixation. No injuries to the distal femoral physes were clinically observed. At the final follow-up, patients had a mean Lysholm score (1-100) of 96.5 ± 6.7, a mean Kujala score (1-100) of 96.5 ± 7.4, and a mean Tegner Activity Scale score (1-10) of 4.9 ± 1.3. Patellar height and trochlear dysplasia did not influence redislocation or clinical scores. In total, 57 of the 63 patients (90.5%) who were engaged in sports before injury returned to the same or higher level of competition. In a subgroup analysis of patients who underwent isolated MPFL reconstruction (n = 44) without concomitant procedures, 9 patients (20.5%) experienced failure and had a redislocation. A univariate analysis of hazards for failure based on patient-specific variables was carried out. A body mass index ≥30 conveyed a hazard ratio of 2.51 (95% CI, 0.63-10.1; P =.19), and the tibial tubercle-trochlear groove distance by increments of 1 mm was associated with a hazard ratio of 2.02 (95% CI, 0.51-8.11; P =.32). Conclusion: Physeal-sparing anatomic reconstruction of the MPFL using an allograft tendon in skeletally immature patients was a safe and effective treatment for patellar instability, regardless of patellar height and trochlear dysplasia. Failure rates decreased when the MPFL reconstruction was performed concomitantly with a tibial tubercle osteotomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1513-1524
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2023


  • MPFL
  • medial patellofemoral ligament
  • patellar instability
  • tibial tuberosity transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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