Currently, an anteroposterior radiograph of the knee is judged based on a centered position of the patella between the femoral condyles. We are not aware of any anatomic literature supporting this recommendation.
Orthogonal images are required for accurate assessment of knee deformity. Although an image with the patella centered at the distal femur is generally accepted as a true anteroposterior (AP) radiograph of the knee, there is minimal anatomic data to support that this view is orthogonal to a true lateral view of the knee where the condyles are overlapped. We designed an anatomical study to test the relationship between these two radiographic views.
We studied 428 well-preserved cadaveric skeletons ranging from 40 to 79 years of age at death. Centering of the patella was calculated based on distal femoral and patellar widths. Multiple regression analysis was then performed to determine the relationship between patellar centering and age, gender, ethnicity, mechanical lateral distal femoral angle (mLDFA), medial proximal tibial angle (MPTA), femoral anteversion, and contralateral centering.
Average patellar centering was 0.13 ± 0.04, indicating that the average patella was laterally positioned in the distal femur. Only mLDFA and contralateral centering showed statistically significant independent correlations with patellar centering with modest standardized beta coefficients of 0.10 and 0.23, respectively.
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