Medial Patellofemoral Ligament Isometry in the Setting of Patella Alta

PURPOSE:

To investigate alterations in technique for medial patellofemoral Ligament (MPFL) reconstruction in the setting of patella alta and describe the effect of these alterations on MPFL anatomometry.

METHODS:

Ten cadaveric knees were utilized. 4 candidate femoral attachment sites of MPFL were tested. The attachment sites were Schottle’s point (SP), 5 mm distal to SP, 5 mm proximal to SP, and 10 mm proximal to SP. A suture anchor was placed at the upper 40% of the medial border of the patella with the emanating suture used to simulate the reconstructed ligament. MPFL maximum length change was calculated through a range of motion between 0° and 110°. Recordings at all four candidate femoral attachments sites were repeated after a flat TT osteotomy and transfer to achieve alta as measured by the Caton-Deschamps Index (CDI) of 1.3, 1.4 and 1.5.

RESULTS:

The 10 specimen had average CDI of 0.99, range 0.87 – 1.16. In the native tibial tubercle condition, SP was more isometric through 20-70° range of motion, or anatomometric, than any other candidate femoral attachment location. With patella alta with a CDI of 1.3 and 1.4, attachment site 5 mm proximal to SP exhibited more anatomometry than SP. With patella alta with a CDI of 1.5, attachment site 10 mm proximal to SP exhibited more anatomometry than SP.

CONCLUSION:

Increased patella alta significantly alters MPFL anatomometry. With increasing degrees of patella alta, more proximal candidate femoral attachment sites demonstrate decreased change in length compared to Schottle’s point. None of the varied femoral attachments produced anatomometry over the entirety of the flexion range from 20-70 degrees, suggesting that in cases of significant patella alta, proximalization the femoral attachment site of MPFL reconstruction may be necessary in order to achieve an anatomometric MPFL reconstruction.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE:

A standardized, isolated MPFL reconstruction may be prone to failure in the setting of patella alta given the anisometry demonstrated. Alternative femoral attachment sites for MPFL reconstruction should be considered in these patients.