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Reliability and validity of quantitative ultrasound for evaluating patellar alignment: A pilot study.

BACKGROUND: Patellar malalignment is a risk factor of patellofemoral pain. Evaluation of the patellar alignment have mostly used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Ultrasound (US) is a non-invasive instrument that can quickly evaluate patellar alignment. However, the method for evaluating patellar alignment via US has not been established. This study aimed to investigate the reliability and validity of evaluating patellar alignment via US.

METHODS: The sixteen right knees were imaged via US and MRI. US images were obtained at two sites of the knee to measure US-tilt as the index of patellar tilt. Using a single US image, we measured US-lateral distance and US-angle as the index of patellar shift. All US images were obtained three times each by two observers to evaluate reliabilities. Lateral patellar angle (LPA), as the indicators of patellar tilt, and lateral patella distance (LPD) and bisect offset (BO), as the indicators of patellar shift, were measured via MRI.

RESULTS: US measurements provided high intra- (within-day and between days) and interobserver reliabilities with exception of interobserver reliability of US-lateral distance. Pearson correlation coefficient indicated that US-tilt is significantly positively correlated with LPA (r = 0.79), and US-angle is significantly positively correlated with LPD (r = 0.71) and BO (r = 0.63).

CONCLUSION: Evaluating patellar alignment via US showed high reliabilities. US-tilt and US-angle showed moderate to strong correlation with MRI indices of patellar tilt and shift via MRI, respectively. US methods are useful for evaluating accurate and objective indices of patellar alignment.

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