> Fractured Kneecap
What is the Kneecap?
The kneecap, also known as the patella, is a triangular
bone, situated at the front of the knee. There are several
tendons and ligaments connected to the kneecap, including
those attached to the upper leg (femur) and lower leg
(tibia) bones. Though the kneecap is not necessary for
walking and bending your leg, it increases muscle efficiency
and absorbs a considerable amount of the stress placed
between the upper and lower portions of the leg. Climbing
stairs and squatting can put up to seven times your
normal body weight on the kneecap and the joint behind
The kneecap can either be partially or completely broken
into a few or many pieces in many different configurations.
Fractures may be accompanied by a sprain or rupture
of the ligaments or tendons attached to the kneecap.
In most cases, a direct blow to the
front of the knee will be the cause of a fractured kneecap.
This can happen while playing contact sports, but in
many cases it occurs in a more violent collision, such
as an automobile accident. Kneecap fractures account
for about one percent of all skeletal injuries, with
the majority of fractures suffered by people between
the ages of 20 and 50.
There usually are three parts to an
orthopedic evaluation: medical history, a physical examination,
and tests that your physician may order.
will likely ask you how you injured your knee, how it
has been feeling since the injury, and if your knee
has been previously injured. Physicians also typically
ask if you have any other medical conditions, have had
prior surgery, are taking any medications, or have any
allergies to medications. The doctor may also ask about
your physical and athletic goals - information
that will help him decide what treatment might be best
for you in achieving those goals.
| PHYSICAL EXAMINATION
A physician can often diagnose a fractured
kneecap by asking you about the details of your accident
and examining you. Your physician will examine your
knee and focus on areas of tenderness, swelling, and
deformity. Your physician will also ask you to raise
your leg and/or extend your knee, possibly after giving
you a local anesthetic to eliminate pain, to help determine
whether there may be additional injuries in and around
X-rays, taken from several angles, are the best way
to determine the extent of a fractured kneecap and to
screen for additional injuries. If other injuries are
suspected, a CT (computer tomography) or MRI
(magnetic resonance imaging) scan may be obtained. A
CT scan, commonly referred to as a CAT scan, provides
finer details of the fracture. An MRI scan can provides
finer details of soft tissue (i.e. muscle, ligament,
tendon, and meniscus) structures.