The role of trochlear dysplasia in patellofemoral instability

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2011 Jan;19(1):8-16. doi: 10.5435/00124635-201101000-00002.


Trochlear dysplasia is characterized by abnormal trochlear morphology and a shallow groove. It is associated with recurrent patellar dislocation, but it is unclear whether the dysplasia is congenital, the result of lateral tracking and chronic instability, or caused by a combination of factors. Lateral radiographs elucidate the crossing sign and characteristic trochlear prominence. Recurrent patellofemoral instability is multifactorial, and each component must be considered in determining treatment. Managing other factors associated with recurrent instability may compensate for a deficient trochlea and provide stability. Medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction is recommended for patellofemoral instability in the presence of trochlear dysplasia in patients without patella alta or increased tibial tubercle-trochlear groove distance. Trochleoplasty should be reserved for severe dysplasia in which patellofemoral stability cannot otherwise be obtained.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology*
  • Joint Instability / surgery
  • Medial Collateral Ligament, Knee / physiopathology
  • Patellofemoral Joint* / physiopathology
  • Patellofemoral Joint* / surgery
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Recurrence