Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of the Medial Patellar Ligaments: An Anatomic and Radiographic Study

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Abstract

Background:

The qualitative and quantitative anatomy of the medial patellar stabilizers has been reported; however, a quantitative analysis of the anatomic and radiographic attachments of all 4 ligaments relative to anatomic and osseous landmarks, as well as to one another, has yet to be performed.

Purpose:

To perform a qualitative and quantitative anatomic and radiographic evaluation of the medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL), medial patellotibial ligament (MPTL), medial patellomeniscal ligament (MPML), and medial quadriceps tendon femoral ligament (MQTFL) attachment sites, with attention to their relationship to pertinent osseous and soft tissue landmarks.

Study Design:

Descriptive laboratory study.

Methods:

Ten nonpaired fresh-frozen human cadaveric knees were dissected, and the MPFL, MPTL, MPML, and MQTFL were identified. A coordinate measuring device quantified the attachment areas of each structure and its relationship to pertinent bony landmarks. Radiographic analysis was performed through ligament attachment sites and relevant anatomic structures to assess their locations relative to pertinent bony landmarks.

Results:

Four separate medial patellar ligaments were identified in all specimens. The center of the MPFL attachments was 14.3 mm proximal and 2.1 mm posterior to the medial epicondyle and 8.3 mm distal and 2.7 mm anterior to the adductor tubercle on the femur and 8.9 mm distal and 19.9 mm medial to the superior pole on the patella. The MQTFL had a mean insertion length of 29.3 mm on the medial aspect of the distal quadriceps tendon. The MPTL and MPML shared a common patellar insertion and were 9.1 mm proximal and 15.4 mm medial to the inferior pole. The MPTL attachment inserted on a newly identified bony ridge, which was located 5.0 mm distal to the joint line. The orientation angles of the MPTL and MPML with respect to the patellar tendon were 8.3° and 22.7°, respectively.

Conclusion:

The most important findings of this study were the correlative anatomy of 4 distinct medial patellar ligaments (MPFL, MPTL, MPML, MQTFL), as well as the identification of a bony ridge on the medial proximal tibia that consistently served as the attachment site for the MPTL. The quantitative and radiographic measurements, while comparable with current literature, detailed the meniscal insertion of the MPML and defined a patellar insertion of the MPTL and the MPML as a single attachment. The data allow for reproducible landmarks to be established from previously known bony and soft tissue structures.

Clinical Relevance:

The findings of this study provide the anatomic foundation needed for an improved understanding of the role of medial-sided patellar restraints. This will help to further refine injury patterns and/or soft tissue deficiencies that result in lateral patellar instability, which can then be addressed with an anatomic-based reconstruction or repair technique and potentially lead to improved outcomes.

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