Patellar maltracking: an update on the diagnosis and treatment strategies

Insights Imaging. 2019 Jun 14;10(1):65. doi: 10.1186/s13244-019-0755-1.


Patellar maltracking occurs as a result of an imbalance in the dynamic relationship between the patella and trochlea. This is often secondary to an underlying structural abnormality. The clinical evaluation can provide useful clues for the presence of such entity; however, the diagnosis can often be challenging especially in the absence of a documented history of patellar dislocation. Imaging, particularly MRI, can detect subtle features that could lead to the diagnosis, probably even more importantly when there is no clear history of patellar dislocation or before its development. This can provide a road map for formulating a treatment strategy that would be primarily aimed at stabilizing the patellofemoral joint to halt or slow the progression of articular cartilage loss. The purpose of this article is to discuss the clinical and radiologic evaluation of patellar maltracking providing an update on the cross-sectional imaging assessment and also a synopsis of the management options.

Keywords: Anterior knee pain; Patellar instability; Patellar maltracking; Patellofemoral osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Review