Incidence, mechanism of injury, and treatment of fractures of the patella in children

J Trauma. 1992 Apr;32(4):464-7. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199204000-00010.


Fractures of the patella in skeletally immature patients are rare. The charts of 185 patients treated for patella fractures at the University of Kentucky Medical Center between 1976 and 1988 were retrospectively reviewed. The 12 patients of these 185 aged 8 to 16 years were included in this study. The incidence was calculated to be 6.5% of all patella fractures. All patients studied were male with an average age of 12.7 years. Sleeve fractures were the most common type of patella fracture observed (five), followed by transverse fractures (four). Ten of the 12 cases required operative management ranging from irrigation and debridement to open reduction and internal fixation. Partial patellectomy was performed when indicated. Indications for operative management in this age group were similar to those for adults. As in adults, the mechanism of injury was predominantly motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes. Laws requiring seatbelt restraints for children should have a positive effect on the incidence of such fractures resulting from dashboard injuries. One mechanism of injury not reported previously was that of a flexed knee striking the gym wall after performing a basketball lay-up because the basket was placed flush with the wall.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery
  • Fractures, Closed / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Closed / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Closed / surgery
  • Fractures, Open / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Open / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Open / surgery
  • Humans
  • Kentucky
  • Male
  • Patella / diagnostic imaging
  • Patella / injuries*
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies