The Ottawa knee rules - a useful clinical decision tool

Aust Fam Physician. 2012 Apr;41(4):223-4.


Background: Acute knee injuries are a common presentation in the primary care setting. The Ottawa knee rules provide guidance on how to identify which cases of knee injury require radiographic investigation.

Objective: This article describes the Ottawa knee rules and outlines their sensitivity, reproducibility and application in the clinical setting.

Discussion: The Ottawa knee rules are a valuable tool for clinicians in the routine management of acute knee injuries. Studies show that they are highly sensitive at identifying patients with fractures of the knee and have a high degree of interobserver agreement and reproducible results. Application of the Ottawa knee rules in appropriate clinical scenarios may reduce the number of unnecessary radiographs ordered, streamlining patient throughput and allowing for significant cost savings. Although designed for use in adults, some studies have suggested that the Ottawa knee rules may also be applicable to the paediatric population.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / diagnosis
  • Knee Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Radiography / statistics & numerical data*