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Failure of isolated medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction in children: Risk factors and management.

BACKGROUND: Patellofemoral instability is a frequent cause of referral in pediatric sports medicine. Isolated medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction is widely used and provides satisfactory outcomes with a low failure rate. Given the success of this surgical technique, the literature on medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction failures in the pediatric population is limited. Moreover, given the multifactorial nature of patellofemoral instability, the heterogeneity of the current literature, and the paucity of pediatric studies, medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction failures are often difficult to analyze.

METHODS: The purpose of this study was to retrospectively review the associated risk factors, surgical management, and the clinical outcomes at 2-year follow-up of skeletally immature patients that presented to our clinic with a failed medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction.

RESULTS: Of the 181 cases in 155 patients included in this study, treatment failed in 12 (7%). All 12 patients presented with at least one risk factor for patellofemoral instability, the most common being trochlear dysplasia and a high-grade J sign.

CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that isolated medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction for patellofemoral instability in children has a low failure rate. Clinicians must assess pre-operative risk factors before surgical treatment is considered. A high-grade J sign and high-grade trochlear dysplasia were associated with medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction failure in this cohort. Tailoring treatment to patients' associated risk factors selection may improve outcomes.

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