Treatment of Primary Acute Patellar Dislocation: Systematic Review and Quantitative Synthesis of the Literature

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The aim of this study was to evaluate clinical outcomes, rate of redislocation, and complications after conservative or surgical procedures used to treat primary acute patellar dislocation.


A comprehensive search of PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, Cochrane, Embase, and Google Scholar databases using various combinations of the keywords “patella,” “dislocation,” “treatment,” “acute,” “primary” was performed. The following data were extracted: demographics, chondral defects and soft tissue lesions, outcome measurements, type of management, recurrence of instability, and complications.


A total of 2134 knees in 2086 patients were included, with an average age at dislocation of 20.3 years. The average Kujula score was 75.6 for patients treated conservatively and 88.7 for patients undergoing surgical treatment in the short–medium follow-up (less than 5 years); the average Kujula score was 87.5 for patients treated conservatively and 86.6 for patients undergoing surgical treatment in the long-term follow-up (more than 5 years). The rate of recurrence was significantly lower in the surgical group (25%) than in the conservative group (36.4%). The overall complication rate was 6.5% (29 of 441 knees) in the surgical management group. No complications were reported for patients treated conservatively.


Surgical treatment of primary acute patellar dislocation leads to significantly lower rate of redislocation and provides better short–medium clinical outcomes, whereas in the long-term follow-up, results of patients treated conservatively were as good as those of surgical patients. Further randomized controlled trials, describing anatomical abnormalities and soft-tissue integrity that may influence the choice of treatment, are needed.

Level of Evidence:

Systematic review, level IV.

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