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Defining a Safe Zone for All-Inside Lateral Meniscal Repairs in Pediatric Patients: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study

      Purpose

      To establish a safe zone for all-inside meniscal fixation in pediatric patients by use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurements between the popliteal tendon (PT) and popliteal neurovascular bundle (PNVB).

      Methods

      Patients aged 5 to 16 years with normal or nearly normal knee MRI scans were included. They were grouped by age: group I, 5 to 7 years (n = 61); group II, 8 to 10 years (n = 59); group III, 11 to 13 years (n = 60); and group IV, 14 to 16 years (n = 70). At the level of the lateral meniscus, 2 lines starting at the lateral patellar tendon border and ending at the medial edge of the PT (D1) and the lateral edge of the PNVB (D2) were made on an axial knee MRI scan. A third line (D3) connected D1 to D2 at the meniscocapsular junction of the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus (PHLM). A fourth line (D4), derived geometrically, was parallel and 8 mm anterior to D3, simulating the anterior edge of the PHLM.

      Results

      Axial MRI scans of 250 pediatric patients (aged 5-16 years) were retrospectively reviewed. Analysis showed significant correlation between age and sex for D3 (P < .0001). For D3, there were significant differences among all age groups, except between groups III and IV. The average D3 by age group was 14.1 mm (standard deviation [SD], 3.1 mm) for group I, 15.8 mm (SD, 2.5 mm) for group II, 17.0 mm (SD, 3.3 mm) for group III, and 17.2 mm (SD, 3.1 mm) for group IV. The average D4 was 11.39 mm (SD, 2.6 mm), 13.24 mm (SD, 2.24 mm), 14.59 mm (SD, 2.89 mm), and 14.80 mm (SD, 2.79 mm), respectively. There were significant differences in D3 and D4 in male versus female patients (17.6 mm vs 15.7 mm, P < .001, and 14.9 mm vs 13.2 mm, P < .001, respectively), particularly in groups III and IV (17.0 mm vs 13.8 mm and 16.8 mm vs 13.9 mm, respectively).

      Conclusions

      This study provides normative data of the distance between the PNVB and PT at the meniscocapsular junction (D3) and anterior edge of the PHLM (D4) with the knee in full extension. Combined with previous studies showing that the addition of knee flexion increases the distance between the meniscus and the neurovascular bundle, these data can be used by surgeons to improve the safety of PHLM repair in pediatric patients.

      Level of Evidence

      Level III, diagnostic study of nonconsecutive patients.
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