PURPOSE: Malpositioning of the femoral entry point in reconstruction of the medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) can lead to abnormal and painful patellar kinematics and loss of flexion. Determination of this point is usually performed by palpation of anatomic landmarks. Accuracy of this method has not yet been investigated. The hypotheses were: 1. palpatory method is not as accurate as fluoroscopically guided method using established radiological criteria; 2. accuracy correlates with surgical experience.
METHODS: Three surgeons of varying experience defined the femoral entry point for the MPFL by palpation in ten cadaveric legs. The blinded procedures were repeated three times, and subjective difficulty of the determination was recorded. Results were documented by fluoroscopy on a true lateral radiograph. The accuracy was assessed using established radiological criteria. Surgical experience was correlated with the results, and confounding or interacting variables were assessed.
RESULTS: Mean deviation from the correct zone for the femoral entry point was 3.5 mm (range 0-18 mm). Twenty-nine percent of all palpatory determinations were inside the correct zone, 47 % were within 5 mm distance from the correct zone, and 23 % were further than 5 mm apart from the correct zone ("outliers"). No significant difference was found between surgeons of varying experience. No correlation was observed between subjective difficulty of the procedure and accuracy of determination.
CONCLUSIONS: The validity of the isolated palpatory determination of the femoral entry point in MPFL reconstruction seems to be insufficient, regardless of surgical experience. Derived from this study, fluoroscopic guidance is used in our clinic by default.