MRI of Hoffa's fat pad

Skeletal Radiol. 2004 Aug;33(8):433-44. doi: 10.1007/s00256-003-0724-z. Epub 2004 Jun 19.


The infrapatellar fat pad of Hoffa is commonly injured but rarely discussed in the radiological literature. Abnormalities within it most commonly are the consequences of trauma and degeneration, but inflammatory and neoplastic diseases of the synovium can be confined to the fat pad. The commonest traumatic lesions follow arthroscopy, but intrinsic signal abnormalities can also be due to posterior and superior impingements syndromes and following patellar dislocation. Infrapatellar plica syndrome may also be traumatic in aetiology. The precise aetiology of ganglion cysts is not understood; the principal differential diagnosis is a meniscal or cruciate cyst. Hoffa's fat pad contains residual synovial tissue, meaning that primary neoplastic conditions of synovium may originate and be confined to the fat pad. Inflammatory changes along the posterior border of the pad may also be used to help differentiate effusion from acute synovitis on unenhanced MR examinations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Adipose Tissue / injuries
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Arthroscopy / adverse effects
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Ganglion Cysts / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / diagnosis
  • Knee Injuries / diagnosis
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology*
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Patella / anatomy & histology