Imaging of the patella and patellofemoral joint cannot be isolated from imaging of the knee anymore than the function of the patellofemoral joint can be separated from the function of the entire knee. Therefore, the current author will focus on imaging of the patellofemoral joint yet integrate this with the entire knee. Because radiographs and other imaging techniques are adjuncts to the history and physical examination, and specifically an extension of the physical examination, each view or technique must be selected thoughtfully to yield the most useful and accurate information possible. Imaging techniques range from relatively inexpensive to very costly, yet the amount of useful information may not show a positive correlation with the cost. Only by integrating the history, physical examination, and the best imaging techniques can the clinician locate the abnormality, determine its cause, and plan a proper course of treatment. Radiographic imaging of the patellofemoral joint requires attention to detail on the part of the technician and knowledge of these techniques on the part of the clinician who orders and interprets the results. Understanding these concepts will help achieve everyone's goal: high-quality and cost-effective orthopaedic care.
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