MR imaging of anterior knee pain: a pictorial essay

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2013 Feb;21(2):294-304. doi: 10.1007/s00167-012-1976-8. Epub 2012 Apr 10.


Anterior knee pathology is a frequent cause of joint pain and limitation of function and mobility among patients presenting to an orthopaedic department. Proper recognition and treatment of pathologic conditions depend on the knowledge of normal anatomy and of the various abnormalities, which affect this area of the knee and may present with anterior knee pain. A broad array of benign and malignant processes may be manifested as anterior knee discomfort, and this common clinical entity is among the most frequent indications for MR imaging of the lower extremities. Clinical history and physical examination are also of paramount importance. The disorders can be categorized and differentiated primarily according to their location. Traumatic or non-traumatic disorders of the patella, patellar retinacula, quadriceps and patellar tendons and supra or infrapatellar fat pad can be the source of symptoms. This article includes a comprehensive pictorial essay of the characteristic MR features of common and uncommon disorders causing anterior knee pain. For accurate assessment of the aforementioned clinical problem, a radiologist should be able to identify typical MR imaging patterns that contribute in establishing the correct diagnosis and thus tailoring the appropriate therapy. Level of evidence IV.

MeSH terms

  • Arthralgia / etiology*
  • Bone Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Knee Joint*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Patella
  • Tendon Injuries / diagnosis*