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Tibial Tuberosity Rotation in Patients With Patellar Instability Versus Age- and Sex-Matched Controls.

BACKGROUND: Several methods have been described to measure external rotation of the tibial tuberosity; all use femoral landmarks.

PURPOSE: To develop reproducible tibial-based methods to measure external rotation of the tibial tuberosity in patients with patellar instability.

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.

METHODS: Included were magnetic resonance images of 61 patients with patellar instability and 61 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Three novel methods using tibial landmarks to measure the rotation of the tibial tuberosity (plateau axis-tuberosity axis [PA-TA] angle, tibial geometric center-tuberosity axis [GC-TA] angle, and plateau axis-midtuberosity point [PA-MT] angle) as well as a femoral-based rotational measurement (surgical transepicondylar axis-tuberosity axis [sTEA-TA] angle) and the tibial tuberosity-trochlear groove (TT-TG) distance were measured and compared in instability patients and controls using unpaired t tests, and the cutoff values for predicting instability were calculated using receiver operating characteristic curves. The correlations between the angle measurements and the TT-TG distance were analyzed.

RESULTS: Instability patients had significantly higher external rotation of the tibial tuberosity compared with controls with regard to the PA-TA angle (18.2° ± 9.6° versus 13.1° ± 6.8°; P = .001), GC-TA angle (8.4° ± 4.5° versus 11.5° ± 3.9°; P = .0001) and sTEA-TA angle (122° ± 8.5° versus 113.6° ± 6.3°; P = .0001). The mean TT-TG distance was also significantly higher in the instability group (18.2 ± 5.4 versus 11.5 ± 2.7 mm; P = .001). The cutoff values were 17.5° (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC] = 0.66) for PA-TA angle, 8.5° (AUC = 0.705) for GC-TA angle, 118.8° (AUC = 0.79) for sTEA-TA angle, and 15.2 mm for TT-TG distance (AUC = 0.863). PA-TA angle was significantly correlated with all other measurements ( r = 0.35-0.71; P ≤ .006 for all), whereas sTEA-TA angle had the strongest correlation with TT-TG distance ( r = 0.78; P = .001).

CONCLUSION: The tibial tuberosity was externally rotated in patellar instability patients compared with age- and sex-matched controls, and this intrinsic malalignment of the proximal tibia was demonstrated in the tibial-based measurements.

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