What is a Patella Fracture?
The kneecap or patella is the largest sesamoid bone in the body and one of the components of the knee joint, present at the front of the knee. The undersurface of the kneecap and the lower end of the femur are coated with articular cartilage, which helps in smooth movement of the knee joint. The kneecap protects the knee and provides attachment to various muscle groups of the thigh and leg. Fracture of the kneecap is rare and is more common in adult males.
Causes of Patella Fracture
The most common cause of fracture is a direct blow to the kneecap such as a fall or a motor vehicle accident. The patella can also be fractured indirectly, due to a sudden contraction of the thigh muscles.
Symptoms of Patella Fracture
Pain and swelling are the predominant symptoms of a patella fracture. A few patients may also experience inability to walk and difficulty in straightening the knee. Sometimes, bruising may also be seen around the fracture site.
Diagnosis of Patella Fracture
The diagnosis of a patella fracture comprises of a physical examination, history of the injury and X-ray imaging to determine the nature and severity of the fracture. X-ray is the most common and widely used diagnostic tool for identification of fractures.
Treatment of a Patella Fracture
Undisplayed fractures can usually be managed without surgery in a straight-leg splint or brace for a few weeks. You can also usually weight bear in the splint.
Displaced fractures of the patella will need surgical reduction and fixation with wires, screws or both followed by a period of immobilisation.
Depending on the fracture and the surgery you may be able to weight bear afterwards.