Arthroscopic treatment of patellar clunk

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1999 Oct;(367):226-9.


Excellent results have been reported with posterior stabilized total knee arthroplasty. A common complication relating to patellofemoral articulation is patellar clunk syndrome. Patellar clunk syndrome occurs when a fibrous nodule develops just proximal to the patellar button. At approximately 30 degrees to 45 degrees from full extension, the nodule catches the anterior flange of the femoral prosthesis, resulting in the clunk and a painful range of motion. The present study examines the use of arthroscopic debridement for this disorder. Thirty consecutive patients (32 knees) with the diagnosis of patellar clunk syndrome were evaluated at 1 year after arthroscopic debridement. All patients were evaluated clinically and radiographically according to the Knee Society score. In addition, patients were questioned specifically regarding anterior knee pain and patellofemoral symptoms. Radiographs were evaluated further regarding patella and component position. Patients were diagnosed with patellar clunk at an average of 12 months after their latest knee arthroplasty, with a range of 3 to 47 months. All patients complained of anterior knee pain and the clunk. All patients had a hypertrophic nodule at the junction of the proximal pole of the patella and quadriceps tendon and underwent arthroscopic debridement through a superolateral portal. All patients were free of patellar clunk postoperatively; one patient reported persistent anterior knee pain. Knee Society scores increased from an average of 64 points preoperative to 93 points postoperative. Radiographs showed patella alta in eight knees, patella baja in two. Four femoral components were in 5 degrees flexion. The present study represents the largest collection of data regarding patellar clunk syndrome. The data appear to support arthroscopic debridement as a successful treatment of patellar clunk syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / adverse effects*
  • Arthroscopy*
  • Debridement*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Knee Prosthesis / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology
  • Patella*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Sound