Original Article| Volume 38, ISSUE 8, P2493-2503, August 2022

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Medial Patellofemoral Complex Reconstruction Techniques Are Not Equivalent at Lower Flexion in the Setting of Patella Alta: A Biomechanical Comparison

Published:February 11, 2022DOI:


      To (1) determine the effect of severe patella alta on lateral patellar displacement after medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction and medial quadriceps tendon–femoral ligament (MQTFL) reconstruction and (2) determine whether lateral displacement significantly differs between MPFL and MQTFL reconstructions in the setting of severe patella alta (Caton-Deschamps Index [CDI] of 1.6).


      Eight cadaveric specimens were included. High–tensile strength suture was used to create a model of adjustable patellar height. Patellar height was set using fluoroscopy to CDI ratios of 1.0 (normal) and 1.6 (alta). Specimens underwent testing (1) with MPFL reconstruction, (2) with MQTFL reconstruction, and (3) in a medial patellofemoral complex (MPFC)–deficient control state, in randomized order, at both CDI settings: 1.0 and 1.6. Lateral patellar translation was measured at 0°, 10°, 20°, 30°, 45°, 60°, and 90° of knee flexion with 10 N of laterally directed load.


      At a CDI of 1.6, MPFL reconstruction showed significantly lower lateral displacement than MQTFL reconstruction at 0° and 20°. When compared with MPFC-deficient controls at a CDI of 1.6, MPFL reconstruction showed significantly lower displacement at 0° and 20° whereas MQTFL reconstruction was not significantly different at any degree of flexion.


      In the setting of severe patella alta (CDI of 1.6), MPFL reconstruction results in less lateral patellar displacement than MQTFL reconstruction at 0° and 20° of knee flexion. At higher flexion angles (≥30°), there is no difference between the 2 reconstruction techniques and the CDI no longer has an effect. At a CDI of 1.0, MPFL reconstruction shows lower displacement than MQTFL reconstruction in full extension only. Surgeons performing MPFC reconstruction should evaluate patients for patella alta and consider patellar height when deciding on the reconstruction technique.

      Clinical Relevance

      This study suggests that MQTFL reconstruction may be less stable than MPFL reconstruction in the setting of patella alta, without other known pathoanatomic factors, at early knee flexion angles. Patellar height should be considered when choosing the appropriate reconstruction technique in the absence of a distalization procedure.
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