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Osteonecrosis of the Patella: Diagnostic Imaging Perspective

Theodorou, Stavroula J MD; Theodorou, Daphne J MD; Resnick, Donald MD

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography: January-February 2005 - Volume 29 - Issue 1 - p 87-93
doi: 10.1097/01.rct.0000149235.86776.df
Review Article: Musculoskeletal Imaging

Disability from knee dysfunction has important implications on a patient's performance of simple day-to-day tasks, work-related duties, and leisure activities, including sports. Diagnostic imaging is of fundamental importance in the clinical evaluation of the patient with knee pain. The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the assessment of knee pain and dysfunction has increased over the past few years as orthopedic surgeons and radiologists have familiarized themselves with the unique advantages of this modality. Magnetic resonance imaging provides a comprehensive evaluation of a wide spectrum of intra-articular and extra-articular pathologic conditions involving the knee. One of the most common indications for MRI of the knee is osteonecrosis. Osteonecrosis of the patella is unusual, and it is a well-documented cause of knee pain. After a brief overview of the anatomy of the patella, the diagnosis of osteonecrosis at this site by conventional radiography, MRI, and other imaging methods is focused on in this review.

From the Department of Radiology, School of Medicine, University of California San Diego Medical Center, San Diego, CA, and Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Diego, CA.

Received for publication August 25, 2004; accepted October 14, 2004.

Reprints: Daphne J. Theodorou, 13 Papadopoulos Street, Ioannina, 45444 Greece (e-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.