Patellofemoral instability (PFI) has been the most reported knee abnormality in people with Down syndrome. Other reported knee abnormalities have been associated with PFI and different management approaches have been described with variable outcomes. The aim of this study was to describe the anatomic variations of the knee in children with Down syndrome. A comparison between knees with and without PFI was performed and our experience in treating knee abnormalities in Down syndrome was also reported.
Records of all children with Down syndrome were reviewed. Two groups were identified (knees with and without PFI). Radiographic measurements included the mechanical and anatomic lateral distal femoral angles, medial proximal tibial angle, angle of depression of medial tibial plateau, lateral tibial translation, and distal femoral physis-joint angle. On the lateral view, Insall-Salvati and Blackburne-Peel ratios were measured. The sulcus angle was measured on the tangential view. Measurements were compared between the 2 groups (with and without PFI).
Knees with PFI were divided into 3 subgroups based on their treatment (group A: surgical valgus correction, group B: surgical soft tissue procedures for PFI, and group C: conservative treatment). Preoperative radiographs were used for the surgical group and last available radiographs were used for the conservative group. Clinical and radiographic data were compared between the groups. For groups A and B, clinical and radiographic data were also compared between preoperative and last visits.
Of the 581 children with Down syndrome, 5% (31 children: 22 females, 9 males) had PFI in 56 knees. Mean age at diagnosis was 11.5±3.5 years. Of the remaining 550 children, 75 children had radiographs for 130 knees. Knees with PFI had significantly more valgus and a larger distal femoral physis-joint angle. Depression of the medial tibial plateau and lateral tibial translation were noted in knees with PFI. Insall-Salvati ratio was higher and the sulcus angle was larger in the PFI group.
Of the 56 knees with PFI; 10 knees were in group A, 11 knees in group B, 33 knees in group C, and the remaining 2 knees had combined procedures. Preoperative mechanical and anatomic lateral distal femoral angles were smaller in group A than in group B or C. Grades of PFI improved in group B after surgery. This improvement was not noted in group A.
In children with Down syndrome, different variations of the knee anatomy can be found. Although PFI might be the most evident knee abnormality, other underlying deformities are common. Treatment of the PFI should be planned through a comprehensive anatomic approach that addresses all aspects of knee deformity.
Level of Evidence:
Level IV—prognostic and therapeutic study.