Patellar fractures in adults

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2011 Apr;19(4):198-207. doi: 10.5435/00124635-201104000-00004.


Patellar fracture is a common injury caused by excessive tension through the extensor mechanism or a direct blow. The intact patella increases the leverage and efficiency of the extensor mechanism and articulates with the femoral trochlea. Patellar fractures can lead to stiffness, extension weakness, and patellofemoral arthritis. Nonsurgical management is indicated for nondisplaced fractures with an intact extensor mechanism. Surgical fixation is recommended for fractures that either disrupt the extensor mechanism or demonstrate >2 to 3 mm step-off and >1 to 4 mm of displacement. Anatomic reduction and fixation with a tension-band technique is associated with the best outcomes; however, symptomatic hardware is a frequent complication. Open fractures are associated with more complications than closed fractures. These complications can be mitigated with timely débridement, irrigation, and internal fixation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Debridement
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods*
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Bone / rehabilitation
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Patella / diagnostic imaging
  • Patella / injuries*
  • Patella / surgery
  • Radiography


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents