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Acute traumatic rupture of the patellar tendon in pediatric population: Case series and review of the literature.

Injury 2017 November
BACKGROUND: Intact knee extensor mechanism is required for the normal function of the lower extremity. Patellar tendon rupture is a relatively rare injury with peak age incidence around 40 years and usually occurs midsubstance. The occurrence of pure patellar tendon rupture without bony avulsion is an extremely rare injury in the pediatric population with few cases reported in the literature with limited information regarding frequency, complications, and outcomes in children. However, due to increased participation in sports and high-energy recreational activities during childhood, the frequency of such injuries has progressively increased.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the frequency of pediatric patellar tendon rupture injuries and describe the radiological findings, treatment modalities, and outcome of such injuries.

METHODS: Demographic and clinical data on a series of patients who sustained patellar tendon rupture were reviewed. These data included age at time of injury, sex, laterality, mechanism of injury, associated injuries, complications, presence or absence of Osgood-Schlatter disease, diagnostic imaging such as plain radiographs and magnetic resonance images (MRI), surgical technique, method of fixation, period of postoperative immobilization, total duration of physiotherapy, time to return to sports activities and follow-up duration. Insall-Salvati ratio was calculated on the preoperative lateral x-ray. The functional outcome was evaluated with regard to final knee active range of motion (AROM), manual quadriceps muscle testing, and presence or the absence of terminal extension lag. Clinical outcome rating using knee society score (KSS) was performed and functional outcome was further classified according to the calculated score.

RESULTS: Five male patients with patellar tendon rupture (7%) were identified among 71 pediatric patients who sustained acute traumatic injury of the knee extensor mechanism. The mean age at the time of injury was 13.6 years (range: 12-15 years). The injury occurred in relation to sports activities in 4 patients. Osteogenesis imperfecta and Osgood-Schlatter disease were identified in 2 patients. High riding patella is the hallmark diagnostic sign detected in plain x-ray with preoperative Insall-Salvati ratio ranged from 1.7 to 2.5. Three patients had pure soft tissue avulsion distally from the proximal tibia, 1 patient had pure soft tissue avulsion proximally from the inferior patellar pole, and 1 patient with midsubstance tendinous disruption. No associated intra-articular lesions were identified. Suture bridge double row technique, transpatellar suturing, and transosseous suturing through the proximal tibia were used for patellar tendon reinsertion. After a mean follow-up period of 18. 4 weeks (range: 10-30 weeks), patients achieved AROM ranging from 0 to 120° to 0-137° without terminal extension lag. The mean time to return to sports activity was 22 weeks (range: 13-30 weeks). Quadriceps muscle strength was 5/5 at the final follow-up visit in all patients; however, relative muscle atrophy was noted in comparison to the other side in one patient. The mean KSS was 91.8 points (range: 79-100 points) with excellent outcome in 4 patients and good outcome in 1 patient.

CONCLUSION: Patellar tendon rupture is rare in the pediatric population and represents 7% of pediatric patients who sustained acute traumatic injury of the knee extensor mechanism. Ruptures may occur midsubstance, or from proximal or distal insertions. High riding patella is the hallmark diagnostic sign for such injury. Although rare, it is considered a serious injury that necessitates early diagnosis and surgical intervention. Functional range of motion was obtained in all patients with different modalities of treatment.

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