Isolated Medial Patellofemoral Ligament Reconstruction for Patellar Instability Regardless of Tibial Tubercle–Trochlear Groove Distance and Patellar Height: Outcomes at 1 and 2 Years

Brandon J. Erickson, Joseph Nguyen, Katelyn Gasik, Simone Gruber, Jacqueline Brady, Beth E. Shubin Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Background: It is unclear which patients with recurrent patellar instability require a bony procedure in addition to medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction. Purpose: To report 1- and 2-year outcomes of patients after isolated MPFL reconstruction performed for patellar instability regardless of patellar height, tibial tubercle–trochlear groove (TT-TG) distance, or trochlear dysplasia. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: All patients with recurrent patellar instability and without significant unloadable chondral defects (Outerbridge grade IV), cartilage defects (especially inferior/lateral patella), previous failed surgery, or pain >50% as their chief complaint were prospectively enrolled beginning March 2014. All patients underwent primary, unilateral, isolated MPFL reconstruction regardless of concomitant bony pathology for treatment of recurrent patellar instability. Information on recurrent subjective instability, dislocations, ability to return to sport (RTS), and outcome scores was recorded at 1 and 2 years. TT-TG distance, patellar height (with the Caton-Deschamps index), and trochlear depth were measured. Results: Ninety patients (77% female; mean ± SD age, 19.4 ± 5.6 years) underwent MPFL reconstruction between March 2014 and August 2017: 72 (80%) reached 1-year follow-up, and 47 (52.2%) reached 2-year follow-up (mean follow-up, 2.2 years). Mean TT-TG distance was 14.7 ± 5.4 mm (range, –2.2 to 26.8 mm); mean patellar height, 1.2 ± 0.11 mm (range, 0.89-1.45 mm); and mean trochlear depth, 1.8 ± 1.4 mm (range, 0.05-6.85 mm). Ninety-six percent of patients at 1 year and 100% at 2 years had no self-reported patellofemoral instability; 1 patient experienced a redislocation at 3.5 years. RTS rates at 1 and 2 years were 90% and 88%, respectively. Mean time to RTS was 8.8 months. All patients had clinically and statistically significant improvement in mean Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score–Quality of Life (32.7 to 72.0, P <.001), mean International Knee Documentation Committee subjective form (51.4 to 82.6, P <.001), and mean Kujala score (62.2 to 89.5, P <.001). No difference existed between 1- and 2-year outcome scores (all P >.05). Conclusion: At early follow-up of 1 and 2 years, isolated MPFL reconstruction is an effective treatment for patellar instability and provides significant improvements in outcome scores with a low redislocation/instability rate regardless of bony pathologies, including TT-TG distance, Caton-Deschamps index, and trochlear dysplasia. Future data from this cohort will be used to assess long-term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1337
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • knee
  • medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction (MPFL)
  • outcome
  • patellar instability
  • surgery
  • tibial tubercle–trochlear groove (TT-TG) distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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