The Relationship of Static Tibial Tubercle–Trochlear Groove Measurement and Dynamic Patellar Tracking

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Abstract

Background:

The tibial tubercle to trochlear groove (TT-TG) distance is used for screening patients with a variety of patellofemoral joint disorders to determine who may benefit from patellar medialization using a tibial tubercle osteotomy. Clinically, the TT-TG distance is predominately based on static imaging with the knee in full extension; however, the predictive ability of this measure for dynamic patellar tracking patterns is unknown.

Purpose:

To determine whether the static TT-TG distance can predict dynamic lateral displacement of the patella.

Study Design:

Cohort study (Diagnosis); Level of evidence, 2.

Methods:

The static TT-TG distance was measured at full extension for 70 skeletally mature subjects with (n = 32) and without (n = 38) patellofemoral pain. The dynamic patellar tracking patterns were assessed from approximately 45° to 0° of knee flexion by use of dynamic cine-phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging. For each subject, the value of dynamic lateral tracking corresponding to the exact knee angle measured in the static images for that subject was identified. Linear regression analysis determined the predictive ability of static TT-TG distance for dynamic patellar lateral displacement for each cohort.

Results:

The static TT-TG distance measured with the knee in full extension cannot accurately predict dynamic lateral displacement of the patella. There was weak predictive ability among subjects with patellofemoral pain (r2 = 0.18, P = .02) and no predictive capability among controls. Among subjects with patellofemoral pain and static TT-TG distances 15 mm or more, 8 of 13 subjects (62%) demonstrated neutral or medial patellar tracking patterns.

Conclusion:

The static TT-TG distance cannot accurately predict dynamic lateral displacement of the patella. A large percentage of patients with patellofemoral pain and pathologically large TT-TG distances may have neutral to medial maltracking patterns.

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