Quantitative study of the quadriceps muscles and trochlear groove geometry related to instability of the patellofemoral joint

J Orthop Res. 1998 Jan;16(1):136-43. doi: 10.1002/jor.1100160123.


This was a quantitative study of the major anatomical structures associated with instability of the patellofemoral joint: the quadriceps muscles and the femoral trochlear groove. The attachments of the muscles to the patella, their lines of action, and their relative sizes (physiological cross-sectional areas) were found. On the basis of the physiological cross-sectional areas, it was estimated that the central muscles-the rectus femoris and vastus intermedius-contributed 35% of the quadriceps strength, with 40% from the vastus lateralis and 25% from the vastus medialis. The vastus lateralis had the most variable results, with the ratio of the lateralis to the medialis ranging from 0.90 to 2.18; this may be associated with patellar instability. Both the long and oblique parts of the vastus medialis were more oblique than the corresponding parts of the vastus lateralis. Photographic "skyline" views of the trochlear groove produced data on the sulcus angle and ratio of depth to width. The data showed that the trochlear groove did not deepen in the area contacted by the patella with progressive knee flexion (p > 0.53), contrary to popular belief. These data are useful for objective analysis of patellofemoral stability and related surgical interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Femur / anatomy & histology*
  • Femur / physiology
  • Humans
  • Joints / anatomy & histology*
  • Joints / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Patella / anatomy & histology*
  • Patella / physiology