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In the last 2 decades many authors have described the use of an isolated lateral retinacular release for the treatment of patellar instability. This review analyzes the published long-term results of this procedure for the treatment of patellar instability. The isolated use of a lateral retinacular release of the patella has not proven to be of long-term benefit for the treatment of patellar instability. It may be used as an adjunct procedure to a proximal or distal realignment of the extensor mechanism. Various pitfalls of a lateral release for patellar instability are discussed.