JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW
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Soft Tissue Lengthening for Flexion Dislocation of Patella.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Obligatory dislocation of the patella (also known as habitual dislocation) is a rare subset of patellofemoral instability in which the patella dislocates every time the knee is flexed. The problem arises due to contracture of the quadriceps muscles. Soft tissue lengthening procedures such as quadriceps tendon lengthening are the mainstay of treatment, in contrast to medial patellofemoral reconstruction (MPFL-R) for the more common recurrent lateral patellar dislocation. The current review explores the existing literature surrounding the pathophysiology and treatment strategies for this unique cause of knee instability.

RECENT FINDINGS: Flexion dislocation of the knee often presents in children when they begin to walk. It is also termed obligatory or habitual because the patella dislocates laterally with each flexion and extension cycle of the knee. In contrast to other forms of patellar dislocation, the displacement is painless in obligatory dislocation. Likewise, the underlying biomechanical cause of this issue is related to contracture of tissues lateral to the patella rather than disruption of medial soft tissues as seen in recurrent/traumatic dislocation or subluxation of the patella. A number of procedures have been described for management of obligatory dislocation of the patella, with the general consensus that a combination of procedures including release/lengthening of the proximal lateral soft tissues as a critical component for a successful outcome. Soft tissue release/lengthening has been performed for over 50 years to treat obligatory dislocation of the patella. This procedure must be used in combination with other proximal and distal reconstructive with careful intraoperative assessment of knee flexion and patellar tracking for satisfactory outcomes. Further research using standardized outcome measures is needed to identify the optimal step-wise approach in treatment of obligatory patellar dislocation.

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