Patella Stabilisation (Including MPFL)

The patella, also known as the kneecap, can undergo a lot of wear and tear over the course of a person’s life and regular activities, which can lead to the displacement of the kneecap over time. This can also be caused by injury or dislocation and can be incredibly painful, reducing mobility and affecting daily activities and patients’ day-to-day lives. Once the kneecap is unstable, it is prone to recurrent dislocations and thus, in such cases, surgery will likely be offered. A treatment option for stabilisation is medial patella-femoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction.

What is Patella Stabilisation, and What Is MPFL?

Patella stabilisation is a broad term to describe surgery used to prevent dislocation of the kneecap [patella.] There are many options for this type of surgery, including both bone and soft tissue procedures or a combination of both.

MPFL (Medial Patellofemoral Ligament) reconstruction is a soft tissue operation where a hamstring tendon is used to reconstruct the MPFL, one of the typical structures that stop the patella from being removed dislocating. The MPFL is commonly torn after a patella dislocation and therefore does not function properly, which is why reconstruction with a thick, strong tendon is performed; to restore this restraining function of the MPFL. This surgical procedure can be known as kneecap stabilisation surgery.

The benefits associated with patella stabilisation consist of:

  • Restores alignment of ligament
  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced irritation
  • Increased mobility
  • Prevents likelihood of recurring dislocation of the kneecap

Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For

The signs and symptoms someone may be experiencing when needing patella stabilisation surgery and treatment include:

  • Knee pain with movement
  • Localised tenderness
  • Knee swelling
  • Weakness
  • Inability to straighten the leg
  • Inability to walk

Patella Stabilisation Surgery Explained

This procedure is often carried out as keyhole surgery. First, a small tunnel is made in the kneecap and another where the original ligament is attached to the thigh bone. Next, a hamstring tendon is used to stabilise. This ligament is passed through the tunnel in the kneecap and in the thigh, as a loop, and secured in position. This is performed as an outpatient procedure and you will need to use crutches after the surgery.

What Are the Risks of Patella Stabilisation Surgery?

As is the case with any other surgical procedure, there are some risks when it comes to patella stabilisation surgery to consider, including:

  • Recurrent instability and patella dislocation
  • Stiffness
  • Arthritis
  • Numbness
  • Fractures
  • Bones not healing (non-union)
  • Need for revision surgery

How Much Does Patella Stabilisation Surgery Cost?

  1. Privately, patella stabilisation surgery costs around £5,500. 
  2. This treatment is available on the NHS for those who meet the criteria. However, there is a waiting list of up to 18 months or more.

Some conditions deserve expeditious treatment without the pain and frustration of having to wait.

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