The trochlear isometric point is different in patients with recurrent patellar instability compared to controls: a radiographical study

Tulio Campos, Akash Soogumbur, Iain R. McNamara, Simon T. Donell

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Purpose: The purpose of the study was to investigate the theoretical isometric point based of the curve of the femoral groove and relating it to the origin of the MPFL femoral tunnel on lateral radiograph by comparing a patellar instability cohort with a control cohort.

Methods: From a Patellar Instability database the radiographs of 40 consecutive patients were analysed to define Schöttle’s point, and the arc of the circle of the trochlear groove. A comparison population of 20 radiographs from comparable patients with tibiofemoral joint disorders was used as a control. The distance from Schöttle’s point to the most anterior part of the groove (extension) was also compared to the distance to the distal end of the roof of the notch (flexion).

Results: The trochlea was circular in the controls but not the Patellofemoral Instability cohort where trochlear dysplasia is usually present. The difference between the extension and flexion length was a mean of − 2.0 ± 0.5 mm in the controls and + 6.0 ± 0.5 mm in the patellofemoral cohort. In neither cohort did the centre of the circle correspond to Schöttle’s point. The extension distance correlated with the boss height.

Conclusions: The dysplastic trochlea is not circular and the centre of the best matched circle was different to the control trochleae which were circular. The circle centres did not correlate with Schöttle’s point for either cohort, and was more proximal in the Patellofemoral Instability cohort.

Clinical relevance: For the MPFL to have equal tension throughout flexion within the groove, the length should not change. In normal knees the MPFL does not behave isometrically. The change in length, as measured from Schöttle’s point to the trochlea, was greater for patellofemoral instability patients explaining why an isolated MPFL reconstruction in the presence of severe trochlear dysplasia risks poor outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2797–2803
JournalKnee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy
Issue number9
Early online date4 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


  • Medial patellofemoral ligament
  • Femoral tunnel
  • Isometry
  • Schöttle’s point
  • Trochlear dysplasia

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