Hoffa's fat pad impingement treated arthroscopically: related findings on preoperative MRI in a case series of 62 patients

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IntroductionThe morphology of painful impingement of the infrapatellar fat pad (Hoffa's disease), which is characterized by inflammation, swelling, hypertrophy, fibrosis, and/or calcifications, has been well described. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether corresponding characteristic MRI findings could be assessed in patients with infrapatellar fat pad impingement.Materials and methodsThis study includes 62 patients with secondary symptomatic Hoffa's fat pad impingement. In these patients, the fat pad was partially resected until no impingement could be determined at full knee movement. Within a maximum of 3 months before arthroscopic surgery, patients had standardized MR imaging using a 1.5 Tesla unit with the following sequences: sagittal T1-TSE, coronal STIR-TSE, transversal fat-suppressed PD-TSE, and sagittal fat-suppressed PD-TSE (Siemens Magnetom Avanto syngo MR B 15). In this case series, the preoperative MRI appearance of the fat pad was evaluated and compared with a cohort of 255 patients without fat pad impingement but with various knee disorders at arthroscopy as well as the same standardized MRI protocol.ResultsIn patients with Hoffa's fat pad impingement, morphologic changes such as localized edema of the superior and/or posterior part of the fat pad, a deep fluid-filled infrapatellar bursa, non-visualization of vertical and/or horizontal clefts, fibrosis, and calcifications were noted on MR imaging with remarkable frequency. Besides a significant enlargement of the fat pad, each of these MRI findings was significantly associated with impingement of Hoffa's fat pad (P < 0.05). Besides a moderate kappa score for the detection of intrahoffatic calcifications and vertical clefts, kappa values for each finding showed good inter-observer agreement. Results of logistic regression revealed that edema of Hoffa's fat pad was one of the most important diagnostic MRI criteria for the diagnosis of Hoffa's fat pad impingement.ConclusionMR imaging allows identification of several changes that may be related to a symptomatic impingement of Hoffa's fat pad. In patients who are suspected of having infrapatellar fat pad impingement, such MRI findings should be considered and distinguished from other causes of anterior knee pain.

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