Why and Where to Move the Tibial Tubercle: Indications and Techniques for Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy

Sports Med Arthrosc Rev. 2019 Dec;27(4):154-160. doi: 10.1097/JSA.0000000000000270.


Patellofemoral disorders including pain and instability are common orthopedic problems, particularly in the adolescent population. Patellofemoral pain is usually anterior, poorly localized, and diffuse. Because of its multifactorial etiology, patellofemoral pain can be clinically challenging to diagnose and manage. With regards to instability, predisposing factors include trochlear dysplasia, patella alta, patellar tilt, and an elevated tibial tuberosity and trochlea groove distance. Initially, nonoperative management is recommended to treat patellofemoral maladies such as overload, maltracking, and acute first-time dislocations. However, tibial tubercle transfer (TTT) is commonly used to address cases of symptomatic malalignment and overload and recurrent patellar instability. The tubercle can be translated in multiplanar directions to correct patellar height, maltracking associated with instability, and to offload chondral defects. A thorough understanding of the anatomy and biomechanics of the patellofemoral joint is essential for optimizing results after TTT. Individualizing the direction and degree of tubercle transfer on the basis of patient parameters is critical to producing successful long-term results after surgery. This article will review the indications for performing a TTT and highlight the various techniques.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / surgery*
  • Osteotomy*
  • Patella
  • Patellar Dislocation / surgery
  • Patellofemoral Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures*
  • Tibia / surgery*