Magnetic resonance imaging was used to analyse the patellofemoral relationships during the first 30 degrees of knee flexion in women with recurrent patellar dislocation. The patellofemoral joints were imaged both sagittally and axially with the knee flexed 0 degrees, 10 degrees, 20 degrees, and 30 degrees. At the beginning of knee flexion the sulcus angle was greater than in unaffected women, the lateral patellofemoral angle was smaller, the patella displaced further laterally, tilted more laterally and the congruence angle was directed more laterally. At 30 degrees of knee flexion these differences were less marked than at 0 degree to 10 degrees. Logistic regression analysis showed that the sulcus angle at 10 degrees of knee flexion was the most diagnostic feature, indicating that there is an anatomical predisposition to recurrent dislocation and that pathological patellar tracking starts from the beginning of flexion. Traditional sunrise radiographic films taken at 25 degrees to 30 degrees knee flexion clearly miss diagnostically important information.
- © 1989 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery