First-time patellar dislocation: surgery or conservative treatment?

Sports Med Arthrosc Rev. 2012 Sep;20(3):128-35. doi: 10.1097/JSA.0b013e318256bbe5.


Primary patellar dislocation injures the medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL), the major soft-tissue stabilizer of the patella, which may lead to recurrent patellar instability. Recurrent patellar dislocation are common and may require surgical intervention. The variation in location of injury of the MPFL and the presence of an osteochondral fracture produces challenges in clinical decision making between nonoperative and operative treatment, including the surgical modality, to repair or reconstruct the MPFL. Current evidence suggests that not all primary dislocations should undergo the same treatment. MPFL reconstruction may theoretically be more reliable than repair, but the optimal time to perform additional bony corrections is not known. A normal or minor dysplastic patellofemoral joint may be suitable for nonoperative treatment, whereas a higher grade of trochlear dysplasia or other significant abnormalities may benefit from surgical treatment. In this paper, we present a treatment algorithm for primary patellar dislocation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / surgery
  • Joint Instability / therapy
  • Ligaments, Articular / injuries
  • Patella / physiopathology
  • Patellar Dislocation / diagnosis
  • Patellar Dislocation / etiology
  • Patellar Dislocation / surgery
  • Patellar Dislocation / therapy*
  • Patellofemoral Joint / physiopathology
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors