Predictors of Recurrent Patellar Instability in Children and Adolescents After First-time Dislocation

J Pediatr Orthop. Oct/Nov 2017;37(7):484-490. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000674.


Background: Patellar dislocations are one of the most common knee injuries in children and adolescents and are challenging to treat. Recurrence rates are relatively high and many patients have functional limitations, even in the absence of a recurrent instability episode. The purpose of this study was to examine the risk factors in patients with first-time patellofemoral dislocations to develop a prediction model of recurrence.

Methods: A single institution retrospective review of all patients with a first-time patellofemoral dislocation from 2002 to 2013 was performed. Demographic risk factors (age, sex, laterality, mechanism of injury, and history of contralateral patellar dislocation) and radiographic risk factors (increased patella height, trochlear dysplasia, and skeletal immaturity) were examined. Patella height was measured using Caton-Deschamps index (CDI). Trochlear dysplasia was assessed using the 2-grade Dejour classification and skeletal immaturity was assessed based on the distal femur and proximal tibia physis (open, closing, or closed).

Results: In total, 266 knees in 250 patients were included in the study. Of these, 222 (83.5%) were treated nonoperatively and 44 (16.5%) were treated surgically. Of the knees treated nonoperatively, 77 (34.7%) had a recurrence. Significant risk factors for recurrence on univariate analysis were age 14 years and below, history of contralateral patellar dislocation, trochlear dysplasia, skeletal immaturity, and a CDI>1.45. Multivariate analysis was performed and trochlear dysplasia and skeletal immaturity were the most significant factors with odds ratios of 3.56 and 2.23, respectively. The presence of all 4 multivariate risk factors (CDI>1.45, history of contralateral patellar dislocation, trochlear dysplasia, and skeletal immaturity) had a predicted risk of recurrence of 88%. The presence of any 3 risk factors had a predicted risk of about 75% and the presence of any 2 risk factors had a predicted risk of about 55%.

Conclusions: Trochlear dysplasia, skeletal immaturity, CDI>1.45, and a history of contralateral patellar dislocation were all significant risk factors for recurrence in patients with first-time patellar dislocations. A predictive model for calculation of recurrence risk was developed for any combination of the different risk factors. This information is useful when counseling patients and their families after first-time patellar dislocation about prognosis and potential outcomes.

Level of evidence: Level IV-retrospective case series.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnosis*
  • Joint Instability / etiology*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patella / pathology
  • Patellar Dislocation / complications*
  • Patellar Dislocation / diagnostic imaging
  • Patellar Dislocation / therapy
  • Radiography
  • Recurrence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors