Patellar dislocation is distinct from knee dislocation Knee (Tibiofemoral) Dislocations Knee dislocations are commonly accompanied by arterial or nerve injuries. Knee dislocations threaten limb viability. These dislocations may spontaneously reduce before medical evaluation. Diagnosis... read more , which is a much more serious injury.
Most patients are adolescent females and have an underlying chronic patellofemoral abnormality. Many dislocations spontaneously reduce before medical evaluation.
Usually, patellar dislocation occurs when people suddenly change direction or twist the knee or when force is applied to the knee (as may occur in soccer, gymnastics, or baseball when swinging a bat).
Associated injuries include
Osteochondral fracture of the patella or lateral femoral condyle
Complications can include
In patients with patellofemoral abnormalities, recurrent dislocation or subluxation
(See Overview of Dislocations Overview of Dislocations A dislocation is complete separation of the 2 bones that form a joint. Subluxation is partial separation. Often, a dislocated joint remains dislocated until reduced (realigned) by a clinician... read more .)
Diagnosis of Patellar Dislocations
X-rays to exclude fracture
A patellar dislocation, unless spontaneously reduced, is clinically obvious; ie, the patella is visibly and palpably displaced laterally, and the patient holds the knee in a slightly flexed position and is unwilling to straighten it. If the dislocation has spontaneously reduced, hemarthrosis is often present, and the peripatellar area is usually tender.
Anteroposterior and lateral knee x-rays and patellar views are taken to exclude fracture, even if the dislocation has obviously reduced.
Treatment of Patellar Dislocations
Immediate treatment of patellar dislocations is reduction; most patients do not require sedation or analgesia. Reduction is done with the patient's hip flexed. Then practitioners gently move the patella medially while simultaneously extending the knee. When the patella is reduced, a palpable clunk is usually evident and the deformity resolves. (See also How To Reduce a Lateral Patellar Dislocation How To Reduce a Lateral Patellar Dislocation Manual manipulation of the patella is used to reduce a lateral patellar dislocation. Analgesia is usually not needed. (See also Overview of Dislocations and Patellar Dislocations.) Lateral dislocation... read more .)
Immediately after reduction, the knee can be checked for stability by moving it through its range of motion (flexion and extension). If the knee is stable, treatment consists of crutches and an elastic wrap. If the knee is unstable, a knee immobilizer is needed.
Patients with osteochondral injury or recurrent instability may require a referral to an orthopedic surgeon for outpatient surgery.
Patellar dislocations, which are common, are distinct from knee dislocations, which are much more serious.
Patellar dislocations occur most often in adolescent females who have an underlying chronic patellofemoral abnormality.
A patellar dislocation, unless spontaneously reduced, is usually clinically obvious; take x-rays to exclude fracture.
Reduce the dislocation and immobilize the knee.
If patients have an osteochondral injury or recurrent instability, refer them to an orthopedic surgeon.