Kneecap (Patella) Stabilisation Surgery
Our kneecap (patella) sits in the groove (the trochlea) at the end of our thighbone. Our kneecaps move in an ‘up and down’ motion which allows us to bend our knee. High impact collision, jarring of the knee or abnormal kneecap or trochlea groove shape can cause the kneecap to move out of its groove. This is a what we call a dislocation. The kneecap usually dislocates in an outward direction.
Dislocation of the kneecap is extremely painful. A dislocating kneecap can be emotionally draining and demoralising as well as physically uncomfortable, making everyday movement and activity much more difficult and the knee unstable.
Most people who dislocate their kneecap usually go to A&E for their initial treatment. Here, you will usually be given pain relief while the kneecap is relocated into its normal position. While this can help in the short-term, certainly in terms of pain relief and getting back movement in the knee, you may want to consider seeing me for a consultation to ensure long-term resolution of the problem.
It is important to learn what exactly caused your kneecap to dislocate. A severe blow or knock to the knee when playing sports may be an obvious cause, but there are often less obvious reasons such as the shape of the groove or position of the kneecap. Effective treatment begins with an accurate diagnosis, knowing exactly what we’re dealing with. To help with this, I usually arrange for you to have an MRI scan.
If this is the first dislocation, physiotherapy may be helpful to strengthen your leg muscles.
However, a history of dislocating your kneecap does make it more likely that it will dislocate again. If you are having repeated dislocations, surgery to stabilise the joint may be the best option.
About the surgery
Kneecap stabilisation surgery is very situation specific. In some cases, I might need to repair torn ligaments in your knee joint. In others, the groove deepened or the patella moved to a better position. We will discuss all of this in a consultation prior to surgery.
The consultation is a chance for us to talk through what surgery will look like in your particular case. You will be able to ask any questions, and I will talk to you about how long I expect the surgery and recovery period to take, including how long you will have to stay in hospital. The decision to have surgery will always be your choice, and I will also make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed choice.
Simple kneecap stabilisation surgery is performed by a type of keyhole surgery known as arthroscopy. This involves me making a few small 'keyhole' incisions either side of your knee and then using a very small camera inside a thin tube (arthroscope) to see inside the joint. This approach allows for a very high degree of precision, but also means that the surgery is far less invasive for you than traditional “open” surgery would be. Open surgery is needed if I need to deepen the trochlear groove or move the patella to a better position.
After the surgery you may be given crutches or a walking frame to help you move around. It may be several weeks before you are allowed to put any weight on the side which was operated on. We will give you some physiotherapy exercises to help strengthen your knee and speed up your recovery. Regularly elevating your leg can be really helpful in reducing swelling and stiffness around the knee.
Knee surgery has seen some amazing developments in recent years, including robotic-arm assistance for even greater precision.
My team has some of the best clinical results in the UK and we are recognised nationally for our excellence and innovative techniques.
As a doctor who specialises exclusively in problems of the knee, I know just how critical our knees are in everyday life. I have suffered knee pain of my own in the past, and I know first-hand how much of a difference being pain free can make.
Kneecap stabilisation surgery can be a good way of preventing repeat kneecap dislocation. Even if you are worried your condition is too severe for treatment, I want to reassure you that help is available. No matter how complicated or overwhelming things might feel, I would be delighted to meet with you to find out what is causing your knee pain and to talk about treatment options. It's easy to get in touch, just call my private secretary Mandy on 01761 422 256 and she will be happy to help you.